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Chapter 3: Plastic Card Fraud This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 09 May 2013 Download PDF

Summary

Plastic card fraud in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is defined as using plastic card payments (such as bank, debit, credit or store cards) to take money without the account holder’s permission or prior knowledge from a bank or building society, or to charge money to a credit or debit card. The main findings from the 2011/12 CSEW show:

  • The trend in plastic card fraud in the CSEW shows rises in the proportion of plastic card owners who were victims of plastic card fraud between the 2005/06 and 2008/09 surveys, with rates of crime subsequently falling. Based on the 2011/12 CSEW 4.7% of plastic card owners were victims of plastic card fraud in the last year, equivalent to around 2 million adults. This is down from the 5.2% reported in the 2010/11 CSEW and sees the proportion of card owners who were victims of plastic card fraud return to levels last seen by the 2007/08 survey

  • The pattern of plastic card fraud victimisation by age shows a peak in the middle age groups, with lower rates of victimisation in the youngest and oldest age groups. Those with higher incomes were more likely to fall victim than those with lower incomes. For example, 7.8% of card owners in households with an income of £50,000 or more were a victim of plastic card fraud, compared with 3.2% of card owners in households earning under £10,000. Also, those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to be victimised than those in other types of employment or the unemployed.
  • Just over half of victims (51%) discovered the loss themselves, primarily through an unrecognised transaction on a card statement (42%). Forty six per cent of victims discovered the loss when they were contacted by a financial institution, for example to enquire about an unusual pattern of card use. Of victims who discovered the loss themselves, 11% reported it to the police and 90% reported to the bank, building society or credit card company.

  • Sixty-eight per cent of plastic card fraud victims said they did not incur any personal monetary loss. This represents a significant change to the pattern found when the questions were first included in the survey in 2007/08 when just half of victims incurred no monetary loss.

  • Just under half (46%) of plastic card owners said that were very or fairly worried about being a victim of plastic card fraud (13% were very worried), levels of worry compared with the 2007/08 CSEW showed a decrease of 9 percentage points.

The CSEW also asks whether respondents had money taken from their bank or building society in some other way which involved their personal details being used without permission or prior knowledge (for example a cheque being fraudulently cashed). The 2011/12 CSEW showed that 2% of adults were victims of other bank or building society account fraud, this is equivalent to around 911,000 adults. This percentage has remained fairly stable since the question was introduced in the 2007/08 CSEW.

Introduction

The offence of fraud is defined by the Fraud Act 2006 as dishonestly making a false representation to obtain property or money. Fraud covers a wide spectrum of criminal acts and affects organisations as well as individuals. It is known to be under-reported to the police and difficult to measure using a household survey1. Fraud has been committed for many years but advancing technology and specifically the internet has brought about many new ways of committing fraud and has provided new opportunities for fraudsters to more easily target potential victims. For example, a single email ‘phishing’2 for personal data can be distributed to potentially affect thousands of victims in a matter of seconds. Unlike conventional crimes, fraud committed via cyber space is problematic to assign to a geographical territory. For example, while a victim may reside in the UK, the fraudster may have committed the crime abroad.

This chapter focuses on one type of fraud – plastic card fraud. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has included a module of questions which asked respondents about their experience of plastic card fraud since 2005/06. Plastic card fraud is defined in the survey as using plastic payment cards (such as bank, debit, credit or store cards) to take money without the account holder’s permission or prior knowledge from a bank or building society, or to charge money to a credit or debit card. Business account cards, fuel cards and Oyster cards are not included.

Incidents which involve the theft of a plastic card are included within the CSEW count of the relevant offence category such as robbery, burglary or theft from the person, but subsequent fraudulent use of stolen cards is not included within the main crime count. One reason for excluding fraud offences is that the survey is victim based and measures victimisation against households and individuals, whereas the cost of fraud offences is often borne by the commercial organisations (either the bank, building society or credit card company or the merchant whose goods or services were purchased).

This chapter looks at the extent of plastic card fraud victimisation alongside personal and household characteristics of victims. Survey questions about the nature of victimisation relate to the most recent incident of plastic card fraud experienced by the victim. The chapter also looks at:

  • The levels of worry about becoming a victim of plastic card fraud.

  • Perception of plastic card fraud.

  • Measures taken by card owners to avoid becoming a victim of plastic card fraud.

  • If victimised, satisfaction with the handling of the matter.

  • Victims of other bank or building society account fraud.

Notes for Introduction

  1. See User Guide Section 5.4 for more details.
  2. Phishing refers to the act of sending an e-mail falsely claiming to be an established legitimate organisation (such as a bank) in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering personal information, such as their account passwords, credit card and bank account details.

Card ownership and victimisation

The 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that the majority (92%) of adults owned a plastic card, equivalent to around 42 million adults. As expected there has been an increase in levels of adults who own a plastic card since 2005/06 when the questions were first introduced in the survey1 (83% or 36 million adults) and 2008/09 (89% or 40 million adults) ( Appendix table 3.01 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ).

As in previous years, levels of card ownership varied by age and socio-economic indicators ( Appendix tables 3.02 and 3.03 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ):

  • Older people were less likely to own a plastic card; 82% of people aged 75 years and over owned a plastic card compared with 94% of 35 to 44 year olds.

  • Card ownership amongst adults in economically inactive groups, such as those classified economically inactive due to illness (82%) and students (83%), showed lower levels when compared with those who were in employment (96%).

  • Those resident in households with lower incomes were less likely to own a plastic card; 83% of people in households earning less that £10,000 owned plastic cards compared with 98% of people in households with an income of £50,000 or more.

The 2011/12 survey showed that 4.7% of plastic card owners were victims of card fraud in the last year, down from the 5.2% reported in the 2010/11 CSEW (Table 3.1). This is the second consecutive statistically significant fall and sees the proportion of card owners who were victims of plastic card fraud return to levels last seen in the 2007/08 survey. This pattern is consistent with the rise and fall in credit card fraud reported by industry sources over a similar time period (as discussed later - see below).

Table 3.1: Number of plastic card owners who had been a victim of plastic card fraud and percentage of card owners who were victims, 2005/06 to 2011/12

England and Wales

Numbers/percentages
                2011/12 compared with:
  2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08 2010/11
Victims of plastic card fraud               % point change and significance
Number 1,209,000 1,357,000 1,801,000 2,521,000 2,565,000 2,132,000 1,956,000    
Percentage2 3.4 3.7 4.7 6.4 6.4 5.2 4.7 0.0 -0.5 *
Unweighted base2             9,112             9,791          19,076          41,054          39,974          42,183          31,692    

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Based on ownership of a plastic card.

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As shown in Figure 3.1, an estimated 2 million adults were victims of plastic card fraud in the last year (according to the 2011/12 CSEW) around 24% lower than the peak numbers of around 2.5 million found by the 2008/09 and 2009/10 surveys.

Figure 3.1: Number of plastic card owners who had been a victim of plastic card fraud, 2005/06 to 2011/12

Figure 3.1: Number of plastic card owners who had been a victim of plastic card fraud, 2005/06 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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As described above, the number of adults who own a plastic card has grown over time and thus Figure 3.2 shows an indexed trend of both levels of plastic card ownership and victimisation.

The indexed trend serves to illustrate that the rise in the volume of victims of plastic card fraud was not merely a result of a growth in levels of ownership. Despite the steady increase of plastic card ownership, the trend in victimisation has seen a different pattern as the proportion of plastic card fraud victims increased until 2008/09 where it flattened in 2009/10, followed by two consecutive statistically significant decreases.

Figure 3.2: Indexed proportion of adults who own a plastic card and victims of plastic card fraud, 2005/06 to 2011/12 (2005/06 CSEW = 100)

Figure 3.2: Indexed proportion of adults who own a plastic card and victims of plastic card fraud, 2005/06 to 2011/12 (2005/06 CSEW = 100)

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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The ONS quarterly publication2 includes the headline figures on victims of plastic card fraud along with the levels of financial loss reported by the UK Cards Association3. The recent decline in CSEW proportions of plastic card fraud is consistent with trends reported by the UK Cards Association. They reported plastic card fraud losses of £341 million for UK-issued cards in 2011, which was a decrease of 7% from £365 million reported for 2010, and a decrease of 44% from a peak of £610 million recorded in 2008. This fall has occurred despite increases in plastic card usage and the number of transactions taking place.

The industry suggests that a combination of the use of fraud screening detection tools by retailers, banks and the cards industry, the introduction of chip and pin technology, enhanced user and industry awareness and improved prevention and detection initiatives have led to the decrease in plastic card fraud4.

Nevertheless, this level of plastic card victimisation remains significantly higher than the more established acquisitive offences such as theft from the person and other theft of personal property (1.3% and 2.1% respectively, Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Bulletin tables 2011-12, Table 15a).

According to the 2011/12 CSEW:

  • 19% of victims said they had experienced two or more separate incidents of plastic card fraud (data not shown).

  • Of those who were a victim of plastic card fraud, 18% were also a victim of other bank or building society account fraud (for example a cheque being fraudulently cashed) (data not shown).

  • The victim’s card was actually stolen from them in only 6% of cases where money was taken from their account, a decrease of 3 percentage points compared with the 2007/08 CSEW (Table 3.2).

Table 3.2: Percentage of plastic card fraud victims whose card was stolen from them before any money was taken from the account, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08 2010/11
            % point change and significance2,3
Card stolen before money was taken 9 8 5 6 6 -3 * 0
Unweighted base 1,123 2,430 2,464 2,181 1,487    

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  3. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding.

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The 2011/12 CSEW also asked whether money had been taken from respondents’ bank or building society in some other way which involved their personal details being used without permission or prior knowledge. For example this might include money which had been taken as a result of a cheque being fraudulently cashed. The 2011/12 survey showed that 2% of adults were victims of other bank or building society account fraud; this is equivalent to around 911,000 adults (Table 3.3). This percentage has remained fairly stable since the question was introduced in the 2007/08 CSEW. Further tables relating to other bank or building society account fraud are presented in Appendix tables 3.06 to 3.10 (829 Kb Excel sheet) .

Table 3.3: Estimate and proportion of victims of other bank and building society account fraud, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

Numbers/percentages
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12
Victims of other bank and building society account fraud          
Number 877,000 885,000 915,000 942,000 911,000
Percentage2 2.0 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.0
Unweighted base             21,972             46,178             44,395             46,623             34,430

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Based on adults aged 16 and over.

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Notes for Card ownership and victimisation

  1. In 2005/06 and 2006/07 the CSEW question on card use/ownership asked whether respondents had used a card in the last 12 months. For 2007/08 onwards CSEW respondents were asked whether they owned or used a card. As few adults own a card that they have not used in the last 12 months, the findings are comparable over this period.
  2. Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012
  3. The UK Cards Association collates data on credit card, debit card and online banking fraud.
  4. More detailed information including a breakdown of plastic card fraud by type in the UK and abroad is available from the UK Cards Association.

Characteristics of plastic card fraud victims

As in previous years, the pattern of plastic card fraud victimisation of card owners by age shows a peak in the middle age groups, with lower rates of victimisation in the youngest and oldest age groups. For example, the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that 6.1% of 45 to 54 year old card owners were victims of plastic card fraud compared with 3.1% of those aged 16 to 24 and 1.8% of those aged 75 and over. This general pattern was similar for both men and women but with victimisation peaking at an earlier age for women (Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3: Proportion of plastic card users who had been a victim of plastic card fraud by age and gender, 2011/12

Figure 3.3: Proportion of plastic card users who had been a victim of plastic card fraud by age and gender, 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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Rates of plastic card fraud also varied depending on household and area characteristics. For example, the 2011/12 survey showed that ( Appendix tables 3.04 & 3.05 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ):

  • 7.8% of card owners in households with an income of £50,000 or more were a victim of plastic card fraud, compared with 3.2% of card owners in households earning under £10,000 (Figure 3.4). This is a similar pattern to that seen for other types of crime.

  • Card owners in households in the top 20% least deprived output areas1 were more likely to be a victim of plastic card fraud (6.7%) compared with those in households in the top 20% most deprived output areas (3.4%).

  • 6.4% of card owners in managerial and professional occupations were a victim of plastic card fraud compared with those in routine and manual occupations (3.4%), full-time students (3.1%) and those that had never worked or were long-term unemployed (3%).

The above pattern may reflect greater usage of plastic cards by those in employment and particularly those in higher paid occupations. These patterns are consistent with previous findings from the survey.

Figure 3.4: Proportion of plastic card users who had been a victim of plastic card fraud by annual household income, 2011/12

Figure 3.4: Proportion of plastic card users who had been a victim of plastic card fraud by annual household income, 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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Card owners who had used the internet in the last 12 months had levels of victimisation twice as high as those who had not used the internet in the last 12 months (4.9% and 2.3% respectively) ( Appendix table 3.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ). Of those card owners that used the internet, victimisation was highest for everyday users (5.4%), with victimisation decreasing as frequency of internet reduces (data not shown).

Questions were not asked about the origin of the plastic card fraud incident (for example whether it was a result of a card being used on the internet) as victims will generally not know whether the fraud originated from a particular transaction. It is therefore difficult to say whether the pattern of victimisation by internet usage suggests that the internet is a less safe environment for plastic card use, or that those who use the internet more frequently are also more likely to generally use plastic cards more frequently in other locations, such as shop, bars, restaurants and petrol stations.

Notes for Characteristics of plastic card fraud victims

  1. See User Guide chapter 7 for more details.

How the loss was discovered and reporting levels

How the loss was discovered

Victims of plastic card fraud were asked how they first came to realise that money had been taken out of their bank, building society or credit card account. Just over half of victims (51%) discovered the loss themselves, primarily through an unrecognised transaction on a card statement (42%). Forty six per cent of victims discovered the loss when they were contacted by a financial institution, for example to enquire about an unusual pattern of card use. In only 4% of cases respondents found out about the fraudulent use of their card because their card was refused at point of purchase (Table 3.4). This pattern is similar to previous years (Acquisitive crime and plastic card fraud: Findings from the 2008/09 British Crime Survey).

Table 3.4: How victims of plastic card fraud realised they had lost money, 2011/12

England and Wales

   percentages
Themselves 51
   Unrecognised transaction or statement   42
   Other   4
   Card was refused   4
Contacted/told by financial institution 46
Another way 3
Police 0
Unweighted base 1,488

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

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Reporting levels and satisfaction

Findings from the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that 11% of victims who discovered that they had been a victim of plastic card fraud themselves1 reported the incident to the police. Ninety per cent reported the plastic card fraud to their bank, building societies or credit card company and only 5% did not report the incident to anyone (Table 3.5).

Around 9 in 10 adults reported the loss to a bank, building society or credit card company in all the survey years. Of those victims who discovered the loss themselves and reported to the police, 87% also reported the loss to their bank, building societies or credit card company (data not shown). Smaller numbers of adults reported the loss to the police in each of the last two years.

Table 3.5: Proportion of victims of plastic card fraud who reported the incident, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08   2010/11  
            % point change and significance2,3
Police 18 14 13 9 11 -7 * 1  
Bank, building society, credit card company 93 91 93 92 90 -3   -2  
Someone else 3 3 3 2 6 3 * 3 *
No-one 4 4 4 6 5 1   0  
Unweighted base 626 1,340 1,319 1,160 766        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  3. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding.

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In 2009/10 the National Fraud Authority launched Action Fraud, a national fraud reporting centre that records incidents of fraud directly from the public by phone or internet. Action Fraud has begun to take over responsibility from the police for recording selected incidents of fraud, including banking and payment related fraud. In 2010/11 five police force areas began directing fraud offences to Action Fraud. The remaining police forces in England and Wales all transferred responsibilities for recording NFIB fraud offences by 31 March 2013. This could explain why the percentage of victims reporting to the police has decreased in the 2011/12 CSEW compared with the 2007/08 CSEW and the percentage of those reporting to some one else has increased in the 2011/12 CSEW compared with the 2010/11 CSEW.

Of those victims who discovered that they had been a victim of plastic card fraud themselves, the level of satisfaction with the way the matter was handled was higher for those reporting the incident to banks, building societies and credit card companies (81% very or fairly satisfied) than for those who reported the incident to the police (60% very or fairly satisfied) (Table 3.6 and 3.7).

Satisfaction for reporting to banks, building societies and credit card companies has been stable over time whereas police satisfaction has seen a slight decrease over time, though this is not statistically significant.

Satisfaction with the police may be lower as, since April 2007, the reporting procedures for plastic card fraud changed as financial institutions became able to report the crime directly to a single point of contact within the police, intending to make it easier for victims by reducing bureaucracy. However, it is possible that people may not have understood the rationale for the change and interpreted it as the police not being interested.

Table 3.6: Satisfaction with the way the bank handled the matter2, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08 2010/11
            % point change and significance3,4
Satisfied 80 80 82 80 81 1   1  
Dissatisfied 17 18 16 19 18 1   -1  
Too early to say 3 2 2 1 1 -2   1  
Unweighted base 580 1,221 1,222 1,067 684        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Based on victims of plastic card fraud who discovered the loss themselves and subsequently reported the incident to their bank, building society or credit card company; victims who were informed about the incident by their bank or the police have been excluded from this analysis. A small number of respondents who found out about the incident in 'some other way' were included.
  3. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  4. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding

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Table 3.7: Satisfaction with the way the police handled the matter2, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08 2010/11
            % point change and significance3,4
Satisfied 69 59 63 63 60 -9   -4  
Dissatisfied 31 41 35 33 38 7   5  
Too early to say 0 1 2 4 3 3   -1  
Unweighted base 104 180 164 110 79        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Based on victims of plastic card fraud who discovered the loss themselves and subsequently reported the incident to the police; victims who were informed about the incident by their bank or the police have been excluded from this analysis. A small number of respondents who found out about the incident in 'some other way' were included.
  3. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  4. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding

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Notes for How the loss was discovered and reporting levels

  1. Victims who were informed about the incident by either their bank or the police have been excluded from the analysis. A small number of respondents (n=38) who found out about the incident in ‘another way’ were included.

Monetary losses and emotional impact

It is general practice that UK customers who lose money on their card without being negligent themselves receive a refund of some or all of the money through their card supplier. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) includes a question about monetary losses incurred by victims in which respondents are asked to exclude from their response any money that was subsequently refunded by their bank, building society or credit card company. However they are asked to include any additional charges or costs they incurred as a result of the incident.

According to the 2011/12 survey, in the majority of incidents of plastic card fraud (68%) the victim incurred no monetary loss, 10% of victims lost £50 or less and 8% lost over £500. This represents a significant change to the pattern found when the questions were first included in the survey in 2007/08 where just half of victims incurred no monetary loss, and 15% lost £500 or more (Table 3.8).

Table 3.8 Personal monetary losses2 of victims of plastic card fraud, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08   2010/11  
            % point change and significance3,4
None 50 56 65 64 68 17 * 4  
Less than £50 8 10 8 10 10 1   0  
£50 to £149 11 9 9 10 9 -2   -1  
£150 to £499 16 11 9 9 6 -10 * -3  
£500 or more 15 14 9 8 8 -7 * 0  
Unweighted base 1,103 2,388 2,428 2,161 1,477        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Respondents were asked to exclude from their response any money that was subsequently refunded by their bank, building society or credit card company.However they were asked to include any additional charges or costs that incurred as a result of the incident.
  3. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  4. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding.

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Table 3.8 showed that between 2008/09 and 2009/10 the percentage of plastic card fraud victims who had experienced no loss increased, while at the same time the percentage of victims whose loss was over £500 decreased. This change roughly co-incides with the introduction of the Payment Services Directive on 1 November 2009, a set of measures designed to protect banking consumers and increase transparency. This stipulates that where a transaction is found to be unauthorised, the payment service provider (for example, banks) has an obligation to immediately refund the amount of the transaction and, where applicable, restore the account to the state it would have been in had the transaction not happened. Explanations for those victims not receiving a full refund may be that an administrative charge was applied, that the bank concluded that the card holder was negligent (for example, by giving their PIN details to others) or where the bank and the cardholder disagreed on whether the transaction was fraudulent.

As might be expected those who lost the most money were the most emotionally affected by the incident; 27% of victims of plastic card fraud who lost more than £500 said they were ‘very much’ affected compared with 14% who lost less than £50 (Table 3.9).

Table 3.9: Monetary loss and emotional impact for victims of plastic card fraud, 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
  Very much Quite a lot Just a little
None 7 17 75
Less than £50 14 14 72
£50 to £149 19 21 61
£150 to £499 16 33 51
£500 or more 27 36 37
Average 11 20 69
Unweighted base 163 297 1,017

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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Measures taken to avoid details being obtained

Additional questions are also asked to obtain more information about the crime prevention behaviour of people who use plastic cards. Respondents were shown a list of typical precautions and asked to mention any that applied to them.

Ninety-six per cent of card owners said they took at least one of the measures asked about to avoid their bank, building society or credit card account details being obtained by someone else. The most commonly mentioned were regularly checking transactions on bank statements (78%) and destroying financial documents (76%). Other commonly mentioned methods included shielding the PIN number when being entered at cash points or in shops (61%), using computer security measures such as firewalls or anti-virus software (54%) and not keeping a record of the PIN number with the card (50%). However, only a relatively small proportion of card owners said they changed their PIN numbers regularly (6%). Findings suggest that precautions taken by those who had been victims of plastic card fraud did not show a notable change after victimisation compared with before (Table 3.10).

Table 3.10: Measure taken to prevent someone obtaining card details, 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
  Plastic card fraud victims
All plastic card owners Before victimisation After victimisation
Regularly check transactions on bank statements 78 83 84
Shred/burn/destroy financial documents 76 73 74
Shield PIN number at cash points/in shops/etc. 61 67 64
Use computer security measures 54 68 63
Keep record of PIN number separately from card 50 54 52
Check if cash point has been tampered with 43 51 50
Only purchase items from secure websites 41 53 49
Keep card in view when paying in restaurants, etc. 36 41 44
Taken out insurance against loss of cards/card fraud 20 23 22
Avoid purchasing items on internet 17 9 11
Only use a credit card rather than a debit card online 16 23 23
Only use cash points that are inside 12 9 10
Never use cash points 9 5 6
Frequently change PIN number 6 7 10
Have a separate card for online purchases 6 9 10
None of these 4 3 3
Some other type of precaution 1 1 3
Unweighted base 31,698 1,489 1,489

Table notes:

  1.  Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.

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Perception and worry about plastic card fraud

Perception of plastic card fraud

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) asks respondents questions about their perception of plastic card fraud and if they think the level of it has been going up or down in the past few years. According to the 2011/12 CSEW, 88% of adults thought that plastic card fraud had gone up a lot or a little (63% think it has gone up a lot, data not shown) compared with 3% who thought it had gone down a lot or a little (Table 3.11).

This compares with a smaller proportion of adults who felt that crime overall was rising; 66% of adults thought levels of overall crime had gone up a little or a lot over the past few years (Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Annual trend and demographic tables 2011-12, Table D26).

Table 3.11: Percentage of adults who think plastic card fraud has gone up or down over the past few years, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2008/09   2009/10  
            % point change and significance2,3
Gone up a lot or a little n/a 89 91 n/a 88 -2 * -3 *
Stayed about the same n/a 9 7 n/a 9 0   2 *
Gone down a lot or a little n/a 2 2 n/a 3 1 * 2 *
Unweighted base n/a 11,895 14,826 n/a 21,832        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  3. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding.

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Worry about plastic card fraud

Questions also explore how worried people are about being a victim of plastic card fraud. Just under half (46%) of plastic card owners said that they were very or fairly worried about being a victim of card fraud (13% were very worried, data not shown) (Table 3.12).

Table 3.12: Percentage of plastic card owners who were very or fairly worried about being a victim of plastic card fraud, 2007/08 to 2011/12

England and Wales

percentages
            2011/12 compared with:
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2007/08   2010/11  
            % point change and significance2,3
Very/fairly worried 55 53 50 46 46 -9 * 0  
Unweighted base 12,243 41,063 39,980 42,192 31,698        

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. Statistically significant change at the 5% level is indicated by an asterisk.
  3. The percentage point change presented in the tables may differ from subtraction of the two percentages due to rounding.

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The levels of worry shown in the 2011/12 CSEW were similar to the previous year’s survey, though compared with earlier surveys a decline is observed. Levels of worry compared with the 2007/08 CSEW showed a decrease of 9 percentage points. This could be due to the advanced technology and security now used and people having more confidence in the payment and security systems or their experience of vicarious victimisation where there is a general fall in victimisation among themselves, families and friends.

Worry about being a victim of plastic card fraud was much higher than for other crime types, e.g. 14% of people were very or fairly worried about violent crime, 11% were very or fairly worried about burglary and 10% about car crime according the 2011/12 CSEW (Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Annual trend and demographic tables 2011-12, Table D32).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the level of worry for those who had been victims of plastic card fraud in the 12 months prior to interview was higher than that for those who had not been a victim in the previous 12 months (58% and 45% respectively).

Card owners in the middle age groups were most worried about plastic card fraud (and were also the most likely to be victimised). For example, 51% of card owners aged 45 to 54 were worried about card fraud compared to 32% of those aged over 75 years and 35% of 16 to 24 year olds. Also, employed adults were more worried about plastic card fraud (48%) compared with economically inactive students (34%) ( Appendix table 3.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Contrary to pattern of victimisation, those card owners in households with higher incomes (£50,000 or more) had the same levels of worry as those in households earning £20,000 to £50,000 ( Appendix table 3.05 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Card owners who had used the internet in the last 12 months had higher levels of worry than those who had not (43% and 38% respectively) ( Appendix table 3.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ).

Background notes

  1. If you have any queries regarding crime statistics for England and Wales please email crimestatistics@ons.gsi.gov.uk.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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