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Victim of financial fraud? Here’s what you need to do next

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Written by: Alastair Douglas
02/05/2017
Bank card fraud is a big problem with more than 1.8 million cases reported across the UK last year. If you’ve fallen victim, here are the steps you need to take immediately after and over the coming weeks.

Fraudulent transactions were worth almost £770m in 2016 – a 2% increase on the previous year.

But while fraud may be on the rise, in recent years banks have made a conscious effort to dramatically improve their prevention methods.

According to Financial Fraud Action, banks and credit card lenders blocked almost £1.4bn of fraud last year. To put this into perspective, this means out of every £10 that fraudsters tried to steal, £6.40 was stopped.

Yet on the other side of the coin, millions of pounds are still being stolen each year. To help those who have fallen victim to financial fraud, here’s what to do to help resolve the issue.

1) Cancel your card

If you suspect your credit or debit card has been stolen, let your provider know immediately. This should be your number one priority. Even if you don’t know when or where the card was stolen from, if it’s gone missing, report it.

The majority of banks and credit card providers have a helpline open during extended hours to report any incidents. And if the fraudsters are making multiple transactions, the quicker you report it the more likely your provider will be able to block any further payments from leaving your account.

When you call, your provider will ask for your account number and sort code, so make sure you have this information to hand. Depending on the nature of the incident, they may also put a block on your online banking account or other products. This can be inconvenient, so try to think about what’s likely to be impacted by this. If you still need to access money from your account make this known, they should be able to help sort a cash pick up from a branch if you bring along ID.

Once you’ve informed your provider, a replacement card should be sent to you within five working days. As with any new card, after receiving the replacement, destroy any hard-copy evidence of your new details, especially any reference to your PIN number or account details. And remember to shred any old documents from your previous card too.

2) Report it to the fraud police

Next you should report the incident to Action Fraud too. Action Fraud is a national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre. They can advise on all incidents of fraud, including fraudulent credit card transactions.

To process your claim, you’ll need to share the exact series of events and timings of the incident. Make sure you have these to hand. It’s always worth jotting down notes straight after the incident to help capture the important details. Once shared, you should receive a crime reference number. Take note of this, in case you need to refer it again to your financial provider. It will help you build a case when you’re claiming back any lost money.

3) Check your statements

The next step is to review your recent expenditure to check for any suspicious activity. If your online banking account has been blocked, request a break-down of your monthly statement.

Look out for any strange activity over the next few weeks and check as regularly as you can that your new card hasn’t been tampered with. If you’ve got online banking, make a habit of logging in daily to check your outgoings. Or set up payment alerts to your phone so you can keep a real-time track of what is being spent on your card.

If you do notice anything strange, your bank’s customer support adviser should be able to explain the nature of the transaction; whether it’s a direct debit, standing order or ATM withdrawal. It’s always worth checking transactions, as transactions for a retail outlet may appear in a different name. This can happen when companies use different holding names.

4) Seek compensation, where necessary

If any fraudulent payments have left your account, your financial provider will be able to reimburse the funds. Remember though, each financial provider has a different policy and this may be at the lender’s discretion. Reporting the incident and obtaining a crime reference number will help build a strong case for compensation.

If you’re still unsure of your options, organisations like The Money Advice Service provide free and independent financial advice.

5) Check your credit report

And finally, always check your credit report following any fraudulent activity. This is particularly important if any personal information has been accessed in the process, as anyone may have applied for credit in your name. Regardless of whether credit has been accepted, if an application’s been made, it could mark your credit file.

In the event of a negative application, contact a credit bureau about the incident.

The golden rules to help prevent fraud

  • Never tell your pin to anyone. Your bank will never ask you for the number
  • Never give out any personal or financial details to someone who cold-calls, texts or emails you
  • Don’t let your card out of your sight, especially when using it in restaurants and bars
  • Check your credit card statements regularly for unfamiliar transactions and report any to your card provider immediately
  • Shred all credit card statements
  • Many fraudsters prey on people’s greed. But remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Alastair Douglas is CEO of credit eligibility and comparison site, TotallyMoney.com

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