Affluent households are now top targets for credit card fraudsters hoping to exploit their borrowing power, banks have warned.
The credit card cons have surged 18pc in the first three months of the year compared to the same period in 2021, according to National Hunter, a fraud prevention service.
Higher-income earners in their 50s were most likely to be targeted, the data revealed, followed by younger families in their early 40s.
Credit agency Experian has urged consumers to be wary of disclosing personal information online, such as mothers’ maiden names, home addresses, or holiday plans.
Eduardo Castro, of Experian, said high-income earners were being targeted for their “strong borrowing power” and urged consumers to keep personal information secure.
He said: “The fraud rate is among the highest recorded in the past three years, continuing the trend we saw over the Christmas period, which saw it reach its highest level since 2017.
“The rapid rise in digital activity has created new opportunities for fraudsters, exposing businesses and consumers to increased risks of fraud and identity theft. It’s crucial people do what they can to keep their personal information secure and look after their financial health.”
Victims of fraud are urged to check their free statutory credit report, with all three credit reference agencies, allowing them to review any information that does not belong to them – and immediately inform relevant lenders of fraudulent information.
Fraud prevention company Sift said payment fraud jumped 23pc last year. The company’s Tonia Luykx said the increase in credit card fraud cases was “unsurprising” as scammers pay close attention to consumer behaviour and market trends.
She said: “As fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, attacks continue to grow in size and scope every quarter. With a number of high-profile data leaks in recent years, fraudsters have access to a wealth of personal information and are even selling this information on both the dark and deep web.
“This makes it easier for criminals to make speculative applications for credit using these stolen details and if the merchant doesn’t have the necessary checks in place, these applications could be successful.”
Baz Thompson, of Metro Bank, said reports of scams had become more frequent after the Government announced its support for the cost of living.
He said: “To be safe, remember to never click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, or respond to unsolicited messages asking for personal or financial details. If you are being pressured to act quickly, an alarm bell should be sounding in your head, as this is very likely to be a scam.”
It comes as Lloyds issued an urgent warning to customers following a 90pc surge in so-called “advance fee” frauds in which scammers pose as a legitimate firm and demand money upfront for a loan.
The bank said scammers were posing as representatives of legitimate loan companies – even sending documents to back up their claims. It said cases were “continuing to rise sharply”.