By Scott Thompson
Recent months have seen a dramatic increase in the number of fraudsters hijacking bank and credit card accounts. Figures from CIFAS reveal that, during the first four months of 2012, facility (or account) takeover fraud surged by 82 per cent compared with the same period in 2011.
The takeover of plastic card accounts (typically credit cards) has almost doubled since the first four months of 2011, and now constitutes over 40 per cent of all account takeovers. The internet was used to commit 71 per cent of all account takeovers between January to April 2012.
CIFAS communications manager, Richard Hurley, comments: "Whether it is by computer hacking, social engineering through popular websites (to con personal details from victims), interception of postal details or poor security awareness of individuals, fraudsters who hijack an account can only so do with the right information. This type of fraud increased by 18 per cent in 2011, so to see such a staggering increase in 2012 so far is a real cause for concern. Individuals must, above all things, immediately review their own habits regarding security and passwords, while businesses equally must see these figures as a serious warning that the fraud threat they face is bigger than ever."
Hurley adds: "The takeover of an account requires data: from a password and username, through to PINs or security answers. The availability of data is something that society is coming to terms with, but individuals and businesses must see the clear dangers in these figures: showing how fraudsters are able to exploit habits or systems to acquire such data. Regular changes of passwords, using strong passwords with a mix of cases, symbols and digits, a full internet security package and not using unsecured public connections to carry out transactions: these are the minimum standards that consumers must adhere to, in order to minimise the potential of becoming a victim of financial crime."