Phishing sites soar as card fraud falls

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Plastic card fraud fell by 9 per cent in the first six months of the year, suggesting the finance industry is winning the battle against credit card crooks. The £170m lost in the first half of 2011 was the lowest total for 11 years.

But as updated chips and fraud detection software start to work, criminals are returning to traditional tricks, according to DCI Paul Barnard, head of a special police unit funded by the banks to stamp out payment fraud. He warned: "There has been an increase in old-fashioned scams – criminals using distraction techniques and social engineering methods to get hold of people's cards or phone banking details."

Phone banking fraud climbed 48 per cent to £8.6m in the past year while fraud on lost or stolen cards rose by 20 per cent to £26m.

Meanwhile, five times as many phishing websites – which try to trick people into inputting their financial details – have appeared in the past five years. In the six months to June 2011, more than 37,000 such sites were detected.