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Unused credit cards expose holders to greater fraud risk

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Brits with unused or emergency credits cards are twice as likely to fall victim to identity theft or fraud, research reveals.

One in three Brits has at least one credit card that isn’t used, whether it’s been slung in drawers, lying at the bottom of a bag or lost somewhere in the home.

It’s estimated there are as many as 40 million forgotten credit cards, with those being scammed seeing an average loss of £1,100 according to Credit Karma.

It said credit cards are typically forgotten if they’re only used in emergencies, once the 0% interest deal is up or if the account was just taken out for a balance transfer.

And as the cards are unused, it means holders aren’t checking their balance or statement regularly so they won’t see if someone is spending on their card.

One in five credit card users admit they don’t know how to close down their unused accounts, and a similar number aren’t sure how to check their balances or even how many credit accounts they have open.

Akansha Nath, credit expert at Credit Karma, said: “There can be some advantages to having open lines of credit that you’re not using day-to-day – many people have a card ‘in case of emergency’ and having a long-standing relationship with a credit provider can make you more attractive to some lenders, provided you’re managing any payments.

“However, these forgotten cards could also pose a risk to your financial health, as they can be used fraudulently without you realising, and make it hard to keep track of payments, both of which could impact your credit score. It’s worth taking the time to audit all of your open lines of credit by looking regularly at your credit report. This gives you an overview of all the agreements in your name, any activity associated with them and which ones you might be able to close.”