back to article Crims fall back on old-school cons to avoid anti-fraud tech

Crims are returning to more traditional cheque and telephone banking fraud techniques according to stats from the UK Card Association. Total losses on credit and debit card scams fell seven per cent to £341m in 2011 - the lowest since the turn of the millennium - and online banking fraud was down 24 per cent to £35.4m despite …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Modern vs. Traditional crime

    Given the choice between having a baddie persuade a bank to give them several hundred pounds, using _my_ credentials and getting whacked over the head in a mugging - I think I'd prefer the bank to write off a small amount of its profits than for me to end up with a concussion, or worse.

    1. qwertyuiop

      Re: Modern vs. Traditional crime

      How charmingly naive!

      Do you really think the banks will absorb the cost of fraud and lose a few quid off their profits? Get real! These are banks remember? Their profits won't suffer, they'll just pump up bank charges to make up for any losses to theft or they'll find a way to pass the blame, and therefore the liability, on to the customer.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re Re: Modern vs. Traditional crime

        Yeah, but higher charges etc are still better than violent assault.

        1. qwertyuiop
          Thumb Up

          Re: Re Modern vs. Traditional crime

          Oh, I totally agree. I was just making the point it was extremely naive to think the banks would ever absorb the cost themselves.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Hello, Constable Pickfart Calling

    ..please stick a needle into the next power socket. It is just to check whether you have electric power in your area. You know, criminals might use a power failure to perform breakins.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. auburnman

      Re: Math, it's too hard for crime fighters... or commentards

      You're only looking at cardholder not present fraud.

      "Total losses on credit and debit card scams fell seven per cent to £341m in 2011"

      I get that to be a drop of £25.6M at least, dwarfing the increases.

  4. multipharious

    Not falling?

    These figures don't line up with the other UK report I have read. Wonder if the other one might be marketing driven. I will need to double check.

    The annual report I read states the ratio is staying fairly consistent since online usage and revenue is increasing. This is sort of interesting though, because companies that deploy tougher measures don't eliminate the problem but they do eliminate their own problem by moving the fraudsters to easier marks.

    The phone phish method is really fascinating, because the fraudsters have a ton of information before they call. They disclose all the information that only a bank employee could know (or automotive financing group) just to confirm naturally, and then at the end they ask for the password. If you pause, and ask a question they just hang up. A few friends have reported getting calls like this, but to be fair they know I would be interested in hearing about it.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Time to phase out cheques

    Cheques are supposed to be phased out by 2018. Sounds like the banks should be phasing them out a lot faster or restricting the kinds of accounts that can cash and issue them.

    1. Isendel Steel

      Re: Time to phase out cheques

      And replace them with what ? I think that is the issue that postponed killing them off earlier.

      Small (simple) businesses (window cleaners for example) may not have the tech to process card or NFC payments/.

      I may have missed it of course...

      1. Lee Dowling

        Re: Time to phase out cheques

        Have window-cleaners stopped taking cash then? Gosh.

        If you can't pay with cash (extremely unlikely), then they are unlikely to take cheques without verification of a cheque-guarantee card (do those still exist?) and even then they are absorbing a huge risk of a bounce (but at least they know where you are!). If they don't want to absorb that risk or customers don't want to pay by cheque (seriously, who pays a window-cleaner by cheque?), they can either accept cash, invoice for the work (if it's a business), or just take cards somehow (incredibly unlikely).

        Cheques are now and always were a silly idea. They are promisary notes, an IOU, and nothing more, and incredibly unreliable - what you're paid for today can bounce in a month's time and you have to go track it down. If your business relies on cheques to operate, and cheques are going away, you WILL have to find another way to take monies (and my bet is, you already did, about 10 years ago). Card is unlikely because of the X% commission, but anyone will just take cash, or alternatively, invoice you in advance (which is exactly the same as a cheque, in essence). And when there are myriad ways to take cards or electronic payment in some form (bank transfer or PayPal, even) then nobody is going to miss cheques.

        The window cleaner who takes card is actually no more rare than the window-cleaner who takes cheque, in my experience. But all will take cash and anyone dealing with a business will either expect cash or invoice you for regular work. In the absolute worst case, I'd take a postal order over a cheque any day of my life.

        Cheque is dead. Most bank accounts don't even come with one nowadays. Most places won't accept them (try paying for fuel with one!). Nobody "demands" payment by cheque (there are always other payment methods).

        Hell, even my workplace only issue/take cheques as an absolute exception. Card, bank payments, or cash, or don't even bother turning up. The bursar is much more likely to give me the business credit card to buy something than have me make him write out a cheque.

        1. Kubla Cant

          Re Re: Time to phase out cheques

          @Lee Dowling: "Have window-cleaners stopped taking cash then?"

          No, but like most people who have a job, I'm not at home when my windows are cleaned. The window-cleaner leaves a Freepost envelope and I send him a cheque.

          What alternative do you suggest? Send him cash? Leave the cash in a tin by the door? Send him a postal order? Send the window-cleaner my credit card details? Open an account with the window-cleaner and pay by BACS when he sends me an invoice? Resign from my job so I can be around to give him the cash? Ask him to clean my windows at night when I'm home?

          Get real!

          1. Lee Dowling

            Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

            Personally, the window-cleaners I've used over the last 20+ years, all took cash-in-hand before starting the job. I've *never* seen one leave a Freepost envelope or anything even approaching that complexity. You're in, your windows get cleaned. You're not, you book them in advance by some method (usually, from what I remember, by paying them the week before to come the next week).

            It's the same as the milkman. How do you / did you pay them? Nowadays, I don't even see milkmen any more (I'm sure they still exist, just not in my area, and not delivering down my street certainly) but you can pay them online before for weeks in advance. Or, shock, horror, pay them cash either when you see them or when they come knocking at a convenient time (usually early-evening). They come back later if they are owed money, I assure you, and at your convenience.

            As for "Ask him to clean my windows at night when I'm home?" - Er... YES?

            I think I might print up a load of similar-looking Freepost envelopes and just stuff them through every door I see. Bound to get lucky eventually.

            1. Isendel Steel

              Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

              The process describe by Kubla is similar to that operated by our window cleaner, we get an invoice and a prepaid envelope. Probably because we may be lucky enough not to reside in a city centre / urbanized estate where this may be an issue.

            2. Samuel Penn

              Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

              I used to pay our milkman by cheque, by the highly secure method of leaving it in the milk bottle. I was working in London at the time, so didn't get back home until late evening.

              Cheques are also useful for paying/gifting to friends/family.

            3. Kubla Cant

              Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

              @Lee Dowling

              "You're in, your windows get cleaned. You're not, you book them in advance by some method (usually, from what I remember, by paying them the week before to come the next week)."

              What part of "I'm never at home when the window cleaner is here" do you find hard to understand? I can't pay him the week before for the same reason I can't pay him this week: because I'm NOT AT HOME.

              The suggestion that I ask him to clean the windows at night was ironic, but you seem unable to understand that, either.

          2. micheal

            Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

            Tell me if i'm being rather petty here,

            He accepts cheques and you write cheques.....therefore you both have a bank account so why not do a credit transfer (they are free for personal banking), asd by way of you giving him a cheque, he has your account and sort code so you have given him your bank details.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1) Spread telephone banking and cheque fraud FUD.

    2) Kill telephone banking and cheques.

    3) Profit.

    They've already had a go at cheques.

    Soon it'll all be internet banking and card payment only. At least they'll pass the savings on to the consumahahahahaha... <cough> so close....

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Plastic Crime

    "head of ...Plastic Crime Unit..". staffed by Plastic Cops no doubt.. Haven't seen a real street copper in months despite that surcharge in the council tax !!

    Why don't they concentrate on real crims and catch the b@stards who put yellow tracking dots in my printer!!!

    1. minky

      Re: Plastic Crime

      I guess in Playmobil land credit cards are made out of meat.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Many, many primary schools will only accept cash or cheque - e.g. for school meals, trips and other sundry payments. I am not going to send my son to school with cash - cheques work perfectly well as far as I'm concerned.

    1. Lee Dowling

      Re: Schools

      And many operate cashless canteens entirely nowadays because a) you can't have kids carrying that money around because they get bullied, b) you can't rely on your kids because they'll lose the cash/cheque anyway, c) kids CAN'T go hungry just because they don't have cash, d) parents want to monitor what the kids have eaten anyway, e) cheques bounce a lot in schools, especially primary schools, especially inner-city primary schools, especially those in poor areas.

      I have *never* seen a kid come to school with a cheque. I've seen parents pay private school fees and some trips with a cheque. That's about it.

      (Disclaimer: I work exclusively in inner-city schools, mainly primary)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People who prefer to take cheques (not an exclusive list)

    - builders

    - plumbers

    - electricians

    - service folk (kitchen thingies, etc)

    - anyone else who does one-off jobs at your house

    - schools (trips, events)

    - small hotels and B&Bs (increasingly so as credit/debit card t&cs get more onerous for them)

    - holiday lets

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phase out cheques? Why?

    Notice how cheque fraud is quite a lot less than credit card fraud, and there they congratulate themselves with a few percent improvement each year. Why call for retiring cheques and not call for retiring credit cards, given these numbers?

    Notice also how "they" continuously come up with alternatives that may or may not look shinier but rarely are actually better (*cough* NFC *cough*), with as main "advantage" that you end up with multiple systems that each tie up some of your money (now or later) and that each can do one trick and well that's it. What about a comprehensively integrated system? One system that can deal with multiple forms of payment order in a robust manner, so that you can equally well print a cheque (possibly checkable by the receiver throuh a mobile phone, say), send a secured-and-encrypted email to a creditor, or send it directly to your bank, optionally getting a "you've paid and the order got through" token back you can give to a creditor, that sort of thing.

    It shouldn't be too hard to come up with a good system that can do this. It'll never happen, though. Banks aren't there to serve you. They're there to keep you from your money and to let certain governments peek at it to ensure it hasn't gone terrist. But suppose banks would be there for their customers, then I'd've expected someone to've sat back and thought about this a long, long time ago. Hasn't happened so far. All I see is bandwagoneering.

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