Credit card fraud in the UK has been on the rise for several years and has become a pressing concern for many. It is crucial to recognise the signs of fraud early so you can protect your bank account and ensure your credit file remains intact.

Here are five red flags that signal fraud on your credit card and steps you can take to safeguard against such threats.

#1 Unfamiliar Charges on Your Statement

The presence of unauthorised or illegal purchases on your bank statements is a glaring indication of credit card fraud. These charges can vary significantly, from small, seemingly innocuous amounts to large sums. Regularly reviewing your statements and enabling a fraudulent transaction alert with your credit card company are critical steps in monitoring potential fraud.

In the event of spotting something questionable, it is important to contact your card issuer immediately. UK consumer protection laws offer robust safeguards against credit card fraud, ensuring you are typically not liable for unauthorised charges. This aligns with the principles of the zero liability policy adopted by many card companies, reinforcing your protection against unauthorised purchases.

#2 Missing Credit Card or Physical Card Theft

The loss or theft of your credit or debit card can lead to immediate risk of credit card fraud, particularly card-present fraud, where the physical card is used for unauthorised transactions. The immediate steps should be to freeze the credit card account via your banking app to prevent further transactions and promptly report the incident to your credit card issuer.

UK Finance recommends these steps as part of their guidance to protect against card fraud, emphasising the importance of acting swiftly to limit any potential damage of lost or stolen cards.

#3 Alerts from Your Financial Institution

Banks and other credit card issuers in the UK employ advanced monitoring systems designed to detect signs of attempted fraud. Receiving a notification of an unauthorised payment or suspected fraudulent use of your account is a sign that your card details have potentially been compromised. These alerts often stem from unusual patterns in online transactions or attempts to withdraw cash and should prompt an immediate response to contact your bank.

#4 Poor Credit Report Entries

Anomalies in your credit report can be a telltale sign of identity theft or account takeover fraud. Monitoring your credit reports from the major credit bureaus is vital for spotting new, unauthorised accounts or other fraudulent activities associated with your identity.

In the UK, it is recommended to utilise services like Action Fraud and directly contacting credit reference agencies if you discover discrepancies on your credit file. This proactive approach is essential for limiting the impact and initiating the process of rectifying any damage done to your credit score.

#5 Receiving Goods or Bills for Purchases You Did Not Make

Unexpected deliveries or bills for online purchases you did not authorise are clear indicators of credit card fraud. This scenario often arises from compromised credit card details used for online transactions or through application fraud, where criminals impersonate you to open new accounts.

In such instances, it is critical to inform your credit card company and involve the police immediately. Taking swift action not only helps in addressing the fraudulent transactions, but also aids in preventing the opening of new unauthorised accounts in your name.

How Can I Prevent Credit Card Fraud?

To further safeguard against credit or debit card fraud, consider the following UK-specific advice:

  • Always keep your PIN and credit card information secure and private.
  • Stay alert for card skimming devices at ATMs or within card slots, a common tactic for capturing card details.
  • Opt for a digital wallet to enhance the security of online transactions, benefiting from encrypted transaction details.
  • Notify your bank immediately at the first sign of any unauthorised charges to invoke the zero liability policy.
  • For comprehensive guidance and support, reach out to Action Fraud or UK Finance, especially if you suspect or have fallen victim to fraud.

We dive into these preventative measures in more detail in this fraud prevention blog post.

By remaining vigilant and responding promptly to signs of fraud, you can significantly reduce your vulnerability to such threats and help secure your financial well-being in the UK.