Credit Card Fraud Penalties in the UK

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Credit card fraud is a big problem in the UK, as elsewhere in the world. It costs the country 428 million pounds a year. In 2009, 700,000 people were victims of credit card fraud, according to an article on The average amount of money taken fraudulently was about 272 Kilogram.

Credit cards are regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and amended in 2006.

Types of Credit Card Fraud

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A credit card may be stolen, and the thief may use the card, posing as the owner. Cards are often stolen when there is a communal mail collection area in a property. A card may be stolen as part of an identity theft crime.

Counterfeit card fraud has grown in recent years. This is where a method known as "skimming" is used to take details of a credit card. These are then put onto the counterfeit card.


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In the UK, as a result of an amendment introduced in the Fraud Act 2006, victims of credit card fraud are now told to report this to the bank or credit company, rather than the police. This change has come about after discussion between the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the financial sectors. The bank or credit company will carry out their own investigation and decide whether the police should be called in.

The Fraud Act 2006

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If the matter is prosecuted, a decision will be taken whether this prosecution should take place under section 2 or section 11 of the Fraud Act. The maximum penalty under section 11 is five years imprisonment. The option is also open to include the credit card fraud as part of a bigger crime, for instance money laundering, if appropriate. Courts may also impose financial penalties, or shorter terms of imprisonment.