Credit and debit card fraud is booming in the UK, with Cardiff overtaking London to become the top hotspot, a financial services company has claimed.
In a survey of 2,001 people for CPP's Card Fraud Index, 37 percent of questioned residents from Wales's largest city reported having been the victims of card fraud on at least one occasion, ahead of London (35 percent), Norwich (30 percent), Southampton (28 percent) and Leeds (27 percent). Overall, plastic fraud of one sort or another has risen 6 percent in two years.
The average victim is taken for £590 ($960) in each fraud, with one in six experiencing fraud exceeding £1,000. Seventeen percent of this is fraud was against the supposedly more secure Chip and PIN cards, while around a third of victims said they had no idea how the fraud on their card was carried out.
The problem with fraud league tables based on cities is that every company that does a survey comes up with a different town, depending on what is being measured and when. Six months ago, another survey named the small town of Shildon as having the worst levels of online card fraud, while in 2006 Kilmarnock in Scotland was apparently the top location for credit card fraud.
A weakness of CPP's survey is that it only a survey and not a record of reported crimes. The sample sizes for some towns were statistically significant but still small, with only 73 people being questioned in Cardiff for instance.
The official body with the job of measuring card fraud is the UK Payments Administration (formerly APACS), but this represents the banking industry itself and does not include the unknown volume of fraud that goes unnoticed or unreported. Bluntly, in the UK there are no independent statistics on card fraud, leaving surveys such as this to tell us that the phenomenon is often quite localised.
CPP has made its money as a single reporting point for a customer's plastic, which saves them phoning up multiple providers if these cards are lost or stolen. It also increasingly markets anti-ID fraud services, a newer form of digital crime the extent of which is very hard to assess using independent figures.
"At CPP we have seen high levels of Card ID theft, where criminals take over the running of another person's bank account, usually by changing the address details and then requesting a new card and genuine PIN to access the bank account, said CPP's Sarah Blaney. "Presently speaking this account for half of our fraud cases."