Credit and debit card thefts jump by over 25% in three years

Thieves stole nearly 2,000 credit and debit cards every week last year, according to official crime figures as London leads the way for card thefts in UK-wide financial crimewave

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 20 January 2020 09:17

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Thefts of credit and debit cards have risen sharply by 26 per cent according to official figures obtained by the Parliament Street think tank via the Freedom of Information Act. Data provided by 19 police forces across the UK reveals that there were 76,042 reported credit card thefts in the 2016-17 financial year, rising to 95,498 in the most recent (2018-19) financial year. Thefts included multiple card losses in wallets, at or near ATM cash machines or on public transport.

The police force which recorded the highest quantity of credit and debit card theft is the Metropolitan police, reporting 215,987 instances – a staggering 83 per cent of all total reported instances from 18 police forces across the three years. 82,775 of these instances occurred in 2018-19 compared to just 62,413 in 2016-17, a percentage increase of 33 per cent.

The second most afflicted area was Hertfordshire – reporting 8,133 instances of theft in total, with 2,904 occurring in 2018-19. Durham Constabulary recorded the highest percentage increase across the three years at 73 per cent, rising from 249 in 2016-17 to 431 in 2018-19. The lowest reported area was Merseyside, with police recording just 109 instances of theft over the three years.

Merseyside also saw a decline in credit card theft, from 52 in 2016-17 to just 22 in 2018-19. Cambridgeshire police reported that of the 842 instances of credit card theft reported to them Barclays bank had the highest number of lost cards at 107. Experts warned that the crimewave could have profound consequences for UK consumers.

Andrew Martin, CEO of Retail Financial Consulting Ltd said: “Rising card thefts are a huge risk to consumers, particularly with fraudsters stealing personal information to access bank accounts."

Martin continued, "It’s important to be vigilant when using ATM machines, as well as reporting suspicious activity and immediately informing your bank if you discover a card is missing.”

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