Some helpful lessons from Mark’s recent experience of credit card fraud

By HarperLees

As financial experts, we work hard to keep up to date with the methods used by scammers so we can protect ourselves and our clients. But as scams become increasingly sophisticated, even the most vigilant among us can fall victim.

UK Finance reports that credit card fraud in the first half of 2023 amounted to a total financial loss of £48.3 million from 188,000 cases.

This month, Mark shares a recent credit card scam that he experienced. Thankfully, quick action avoided permanent financial loss, but we decided to share this story just in case you run into a similar problem and to show how easily you could be caught out.

Read on to learn how he was able to spot the problem and how he ensured the transactions could be reversed and blocked quickly.

A series of phone calls and texts alerted Mark that something was amiss with his credit card

It started with a phone call from a number Mark didn’t recognise. On answering, he heard a man’s voice saying “Hi, hello, I cannot hear you”, after which the call ended.

Two minutes later, Mark received a text notification from his credit card company, which read: “Confirmation: You made changes to your phone number. If you did not, call 0345 XXX XXXX”.

Knowing that he hadn’t changed his phone number with the credit card company, Mark believed the text to be a scam. However, when he checked his mobile app, he discovered that the phone number had been changed there.

He immediately called the number shown on the back of his credit card rather than the number in the text message, which he suspected to be false.

The credit card company’s fraud department blocked Mark’s card as a number of fraudulent transactions began to appear

When the customer service assistant answered, Mark explained the problem and was taken through their security checks. Midway through, Mark noticed two pending transactions for £24 and £90, and urged the assistant to block these payments.

However, Mark was transferred to the credit card company’s fraud department with no introduction, so had to explain the issue again. While waiting, a third pending payment appeared on the app, this time for around £400 to a national plumbing company – more about them later. At this point, the fraud department blocked the card to prevent any further transactions.

Mark was fortunate to be able to act quickly and avoid further damage

On investigation, it transpired that an impersonator had called the credit card company to advise of the “new” contact number and passed the security checks. Thankfully, the credit card company’s security process meant that Mark received a text message notification, which was then followed up by a letter received five days later.

It’s certainly fortunate that Mark was in a position to see the text message and act immediately – who knows how much could have been taken from the credit card if he hadn’t seen it?

Mark discovered a couple of interesting points through the experience

Though we work hard to stay up to date with the latest scams, there were a few points that Mark learnt from this experience that are useful to note.

The telephone call was the first hint that something was amiss

It’s unclear whether the telephone call Mark received first was a coincidence or part of the fraud. After his online account and card had been blocked, Mark called the number back and was answered this time by a woman’s voice, with the same response of “Hi, hello, I cannot hear you.”

There are reported claims that a similar method has been used to record the individual’s voice answering “yes” to fool voice-identifying software, though the content of this call makes that unlikely. Maybe it was the fraudsters attempting to intercept Mark’s call reporting the fraud to his credit card company. While we can’t be sure of the relevance of the call, it seems unlikely to be coincidental.

Though your credit card company will help to protect you, it’s your responsibility to report the fraud to the authorities

The fraud department adviser was very helpful and took all possible action to prevent further financial damage, but was unable to confirm what security questions the impersonator had apparently passed.

The adviser was able to confirm part of the delivery address used for the plumbing company order but was unable to provide full details due to GDPR restrictions – and we thought GDPR was to protect the consumer!

When Mark contacted the plumbing company that one of the transactions had been related to, providing the delivery address meant they were able to cancel the order.

The credit card company’s role is to protect their customer as far as possible, and the adviser informed Mark that it is for the individual to decide whether to report instances of fraud such as these to the authorities.

On reporting this to the police non-emergency number, Mark found that, provided there is no immediate danger to yourself or someone else (in which case, call 999), you must report the fraud to Action Fraud as soon as possible, rather than the police.

5 practical steps you can take to protect yourself from credit card fraud

Given how rife credit card fraud is, it’s important to remain alert and suspicious of financial dealings that look unusual. There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself in case you find yourself in Mark’s position in the future.

  1. Next time you receive a genuine text message from your bank or credit card company, such as confirming your payment has been received, save it as a confirmed contact on your mobile. It will make it easier to spot a scam later.
  2. If you receive a call from a number you do not recognise, ignore it and leave it to go to voicemail. Genuine callers will usually leave a message for you.
  3. Where possible, use a separate credit card for all online payments and always check that the padlock sign is visible in the URL bar before leaving card details. If breached, this does not give access to your full banking service.
  4. Alternatively, you could use a service such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay to store your credit card information. These services do not share your specific card details with the retailer or supplier.
  5. If in doubt, always contact your bank or credit card provider to verify any unexpected telephone calls, texts, or emails using the telephone number printed on your physical card or their website. Ideally, use a different phone in case your telephone line has been intercepted.

By implementing these steps and staying vigilant, you can make it much more likely that you’ll spot a scam before you experience any lasting financial loss.

Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you to keep your wealth safe, we’ll be happy to support you. Please email us at or call 01277 350560.

Please note

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.