Debit and credit card fraud has increased as criminals turn to old-fashioned scams to swipe people's plastic, an industry body says.

Key Points

  • Losses on cards increases to £185m in first half of 2012
  • Fraudulent losses hit peak of £304m in 2008
  • Users warned to be on their guard

Total losses on UK cards increased to £185 million in the first half of this year, a 9% rise compared with the last six months of 2011, according to the UK Cards Association.

While this is way below a peak of £304 million in losses in the first half of 2008, criminals are increasingly resorting to traditional ways of stealing people's details to combat anti-fraud advances such as chip and PIN, the body says.

This includes causing distractions in shops or at cash machines and then stealing people's cards.

Fake websites

Another scam involves phoning an elderly person, pretending to be from their bank, and claiming their card needs collecting and they need to key in their PIN.

A courier is then sent to pick up the card, which is delivered to the fraudster.

There has also been an increase in fake websites set up by criminals to trick customers into giving their online banking details.

Online banking customers are being duped into giving their log-in details to fraudsters who phone them, pretending to be from their bank.

Detective Chief Inspector David Carter, head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), says: "We are urging everyone to be on their guard and work with us to help stop this criminal activity.

"Your bank or the police will never cold call you or email you and ask you for your full log-in details, cards or PINs.

"If anyone does, hang up on the phone or delete the email."

The DCPCU is sponsored by the banking industry to help stamp out payment fraud in the UK.