British consumers warned to be vigilant this Christmas

26 November 2003
Consumers should be particularly vigilant with their credit and debit cards and personal information over the Christmas period, a consumer credit expert has warned.

Experian is forecasting a dramatic rise in attempted fraud in the run up to Christmas, as more Britons order goods by phone or internet.

The national consumer credit bureau and business credit reporting service warns that people may take less care with their personal information as they rush to complete their Christmas shopping and when consumers are less vigilant, the risk of cards and personal information falling into the wrong hands increases.

Jill Stevens, director of consumer relations at Experian, said: "There are steps that both consumers and businesses can take to minimise the risk of fraud. There is a wide range of fraud prevention tools available to retailers and other businesses to help combat fraud - and protect their customers at the same time - and consumers are well advised to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of card-not-present fraud, transaction fraud or identity theft."

Ms Stevens advises that consumers take care of personal information by keeping documents, including transaction slips and proofs of identity secure, never throw away whole receipts, bank statements, utility bills or other documents that can be used by a fraudster to assume an identity. Receipts should be checked against card and bank statements carefully, and personal or financial details should not be disclosed to anyone 'cold-calling', even if they claim to be from a bank, the police or another official organisation.

Experian advises that, if documents are stolen, consumers should obtain a copy of their credit report and improve security on the report in order to protect against fraud.

According to data from the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS), card-not-present fraud has risen by a third (33 per cent) over the last two years to £109.6 million, identify fraud has increased from £16 million in 2001 to £25 million in 2003. During this time, fraud on UK-issued cards has increased by £55.2 million, from £356.4 million to £411.6 million.