The Credit Card Scams That Keep Fooling People

With every financial advancement it seems like there is some new kind of scam ready to take advantage of it. All of it boils down to some kind of basic thievery. Back in the simple days of barter this probably involved literal robbery. You would have to physically go up and steal someone’s stuff. And that was that.

Then tangible money came along and, well, it just evolved into robbing people and/or the banks that held it. And bank robbers gained a sort of notoriety, some even became legendary. And for a while that was all that fraud entailed; tricking naïve people out of their money while trying not to get caught.

Of course, modern credit card fraud (or general financial fraud, which has a surprisingly long history) is essentially the same thing – it just involves gadgets like phones and computers and funny words like phishing.

Here are some of the most common credit card scams that still seem to catch people out.


The original and still one of the most common scams that do card carrying folk out of money.

Generally this involves acquiring someone’s card details by getting them to enter their personal information into a fake website. The website looks just like a real website, but it’s just a ploy to trick the user.

The classic angle for this scam is for a fraudster to attempt to imitate a banking page in the hope that you will fill your details in.

This is quite easily avoided if you know what to be mindful of.

Make sure that whenever you are entering any personal information online that you see the letters HTTPS in the URL.

Also be very suspicious of any emails that ask you to input any information online and claim to be from banks, building societies or telephone companies.

And, of course, check your credit card statements regularly to make sure that nothing fishy (phishy?) is going on.

Phishing (or similar types of fraud like malware) cost the UK public about £39.6m annually.


Skimming is when your card is surreptitiously placed inside a card reader or is swiped to get your card details.

Card skimmers are very easily attached to most card readers and thus it is always advisable that you don’t let your card out of your sight when paying for stuff.

Occasionally a fraudster will try and distract you (or get someone else to) when you are paying for your goods, so make sure you don’t allow this. Just be vigilant when you are paying for anything and always keep your PIN a secret, this involves covering your keypad when entering your PIN.

Skimming amounts to about £42.1m in fraud.

ATM Fraud

This is when you put your credit or debit card in an ATM that you are entirely unaware has been tampered with. The card gets trapped, the fraudsters watch as you enter your PIN and then you come back and nick the card.

In a much less fancy way of doing this, some criminals will simply distract you and get a mate to steal your card. Not quite as complicated but still effective.

When it comes to ATMs never go to any machine that looks like it’s been tampered with and don’t let yourself get distracted while at an ATM.

ATM fraud costs the UK public £28.9m annually.

Telephone/Mail Order Fraud

Much like the “distraction” form of fraud, telephone and mail order scams are a little more on the agricultural side of things. It involves fraudsters merely getting your card details and buying items over the phone or via mail order, the rare instances where a PIN number is not always required.

To avoid this one (and many of the others to be fair) don’t give out your card details to anyone and be particularly suspicious of “companies” who ask for personal information over the phone or via email.

This kind of fraud costs the UK about £105.6m a year.

All figures are from NatWest’s Digital Security Infographic

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