What’s more important keeping your PIN secret or having anti- virus software?

8 out of 10 people we asked made the wrong choice, they went for the PIN answer. In fact, statistics show that the risks from not having good anti-virus protection are approximately 10 times larger than having your PIN compromised. In this article we are looking at what are the biggest scam and fraud risks for individuals and taking those facts to make sure we prioritize the correct knowledge to stay safe.

Using the UK Finance data for 2018 we get quickly get a very clear picture:

What we can see is that of the £1.2bilion that fraudster stole in the UK last year a whopping £671 million was from unauthorised payment card transactions, the next largest was authorised push payments (where victims are tricked into paying fraudsters) at £354 million, remote banking is much lower at £123 million and good old fashioned cheque fraud comes last at £24 million.

What does this mean for the individual? On the face of it by far the biggest risk is on payment/credit cards. But it’s not that simple as victims of unauthorised card use are legally protected from losses and even some authorised use of credit cards is protected by issuers.

75% of the losses from cards were from “remote purchases” i.e. purchases by internet, telephone or mail order. To protect yourself from this threat, the key things to remember are

  • Credit not Debit Card – The consumer protection on credit cards for goods over £100 is much higher than for debit cards
  • Follow the Crowd – Only use reputable well reviewed sites
  • Check your statements – Regularly
  • If its too good to be true – it’s a scam!


The other key risk is card id theft/lost or stolen cards. To stay safe the following are key:

  • Personal means private! – Do not divulge personal details unless you are certain who you are sharing it with, and certainly not PIN numbers!
  • Check – your statements regularly
  • Contact – your bank or credit card company if you have already given out financial details
  • ID Protection –  If you’re worried about identity fraud and would like to protect your identity contact CIFAS


Authorised Push Payments are possibly the biggest risk for consumers because the protection is still quite limited. The biggest type of scam here is “malicious redirection” where fraudsters convince victims that their account details have changed, and the unsuspecting transfer large sums of money meant for a builder, private school or solicitor to a fraudster.

There is a new guarantee for such payments by the TSB and other banks have signed up to a new code to help victims but as a background we should all remember that last year only 20% of such losses were refunded to victims.

  • Change of payment details? – Give them a call to check that their email has not compromised and it’s a genuine request


For information on how to stay safe from Impersonation, Investment and Romance scams please see our online library

The £150 million of losses from remote banking, are mainly made up of internet banking fraud 80%, telephone banking fraud 15% and Mobile banking fraud 5%. Staying safe from this involves:

  • Personal means private! – Do not divulge personal details unless you are certain who you are sharing it with, and certainly not PIN numbers!
  • Check – your statements regularly
  • Anti-virus up to date – This software helps protect from malware, malicious sites and many other threats, not having it is worse than leaving your front door open all day long!


And that is what brings us back to the opening statement that losses from personal financial information being hijacked are ten times greater than losses from PIN abuse. Similarly, although losses from cards are enormous, we are protected from a lot of these but need to follow the tips above. On the face of it the risk from authorised bank payments is a lot less than that of cards but the consumer protection on this is so low that we all need to make sure that we stay safe from payment redirection, impersonation frauds, investment frauds, romance scams, goods never received and advance fee scams. Please read our Scam Alerts and Guides and stay safe.

Reassura is dedicated to helping raise awareness of scams and fraud along with the impact they have on their victims. Reassura’s team of specialist anti-fraud advisors are here to help members make better decisions and avoid falling victim to scams and fraud.

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