March 31, 2009 07:20 ET

Britons' Missing Millions: Pounds Sterling 10.8bn Unaccounted For

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 31, 2009) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

Over Pounds Sterling 10.8bn(1) worth of transactions was unaccounted for by British cardholders in the last year, despite the turbulent financial climate and rising levels of payment fraud.(2)

The study by life assistance company CPP, reveals that a third of cardholders fail to identify all transactions leaving their bank accounts, with the average person not being able to identify Pounds Sterling 15.38 a month.

In fact, out of those cardholders that can't identify all transactions, nearly one in ten are unable to identify over a fifth of transactions on their monthly statements - with a quarter (28 per cent) putting it down to fraud.

These findings were also backed up by a live behavioural study, which found that more than half of cardholders couldn't recognise payments on their recent bank statements.

It seems, however, that cardholders are making it easier for fraudsters as they fail to take action. Out of those that can't identify all transactions, half don't investigate unidentifiable transactions unless they are for Pounds Sterling 21 or more. This is despite the majority (70 per cent) of all cardholders thinking that fraud will rise due to the recession, as people resort to desperate measures.

The vast majority of unidentifiable transactions are low value - the average comes in at approximately Pounds Sterling 15. This may be a sign that your details have been compromised, as according to CPP, fraudsters often withdraw numerous small sums before targeting cardholders for larger amounts.

Michael Lynch, identity fraud expert from CPP said: "Cardholders really need to be on their game to protect their finances. Criminals do benefit from complacent attitudes to card security and it is not uncommon for fraudsters to make small transactions of a few pounds to 'test the water' before going on to purchase something expensive like a flat screen TV or laptop."

While some cardholders acknowledge that unaccountable transactions may be down to forgetfulness, many are certain it's because they've been a victim of fraud. In other instances, cardholders blame transactions they can't account for because of cheque payments not stating the recipient's name, or trading names differing from the registered company name.

The report also shows that Brits are putting themselves at risk by failing to check their statements thoroughly. One in ten (12 per cent) are checking their statements less because they are either worried about their balance in the current climate, are using cards less frequently, or simply can't be bothered. This leaves card holders exposed, particularly to Card-Not-Present (CNP) fraud, where criminals use stolen card details to make a purchase on the internet, by phone or by mail order.

Michael Lynch continued: "It's particularly concerning that cardholders are unable to identify exactly where money is going each month from their bank accounts. It's all too easy to become lax with our card security as we use credit and debit cards more and more. But it's essential that we regularly, and thoroughly, check our statements to not only stay on top of our finances, but to ensure the early detection of fraud.

"The banks are doing their part to try to identify fraudulent transactions, but we need to help them by monitoring our accounts and reporting anything unusual."

Richard Hurley, from CIFAS - The UK's Fraud Prevention Service, said: "These figures - if they truly reflect the lack of priority given to checking statements and investigating 'unidentifiable' transactions - are worrying. They demonstrate how far too many people are leaving themselves exposed to fraud. In the same way that a person would not turn a blind eye to small cash amounts disappearing from their wallet or purse, consumers need to be equally vigilant in checking and verifying bank statements to be sure that they are only paying for what they should be paying for. It is common practice for fraudsters to steal a small sum to 'test the waters' before subsequently emptying an account. This, in itself, should make individuals think twice before they file or shred their statements without checking them properly."

Top tips from CPP for keeping your cards safe in 2009:

- Sign up to Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode as it will help prevent unauthorised online spending

- When making purchases, don't let staff take your debit/credit card out of sight, even for a second

- Check your receipts against your statements when you get home

- Don't let someone else take money out on your behalf

- Don't carry multiple debit/credit cards in a wallet

- Don't carry debit/credit cards loose in a bag or pocket

Key statistics

- Pounds Sterling 10.8bn was unaccounted for last year by British cardholders

- 32% of cardholders cannot identify all transactions on their monthly statements

- 8% cannot identify over a fifth of their monthly transactions

- The average value of an unrecognised transaction is Pounds Sterling 15.38

- The average number of unidentified transactions per month is 1.3

- 49% of people that can't identify all their transactions, say they would not investigate a transaction below the value of Pounds Sterling 21

- 15% of people that can't identify all their transactions, say they would not investigate transaction below the value of Pounds Sterling 50

- 28% think they have been a victim of fraud

- 28% put unidentified transactions down to forgetfulness

- 27% put unidentified transactions down to cheques not stating the recipient

- 3% do not check their bank statements at all or check them thoroughly

- 9% of those who thorough check their statements do so less than once a month

- 70% think fraud will rise in a recession

Visit www.cpp.co.uk for more information.

Notes to Editor

(1) The potential amount of transactions which have been unaccounted for is based on the following formula. The average number of transactions not recognized by all UK adults per month is 1.33. The average value of each transaction that goes unidentified is Pounds Sterling 15.38. Therefore 1.33 transactions that go unidentified multiplied by the average value of unidentified transactions (Pounds Sterling 15.38) gives the value of Pounds Sterling 20.46. Over the year this amounts to Pounds Sterling 245.46. 90% of the UK adults own a plastic card based on figures from the Office of National Statistics which amounts to 44,145,900. Multiplying the average value of unidentified transactions by the UK card holder population per year equals 245.46 x 44,145,900 amounts to Pounds Sterling 10.8bn (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=6321&Pos=&ColRank=1&Rank=272)

(2) Card fraud losses totalled Pounds Sterling 609.9 million in the UK according to the latest figures released by APACS, the UK payments association, a rise of 14% compared to 2007.

Research Methodology

A live experiment was conducted by Dubit Ltd, from the 3rd - 5th March 2009. The live experiment involved three online focus groups, where participants were asked to review their bank statements from the previous twelve months highlighting any transactions which they could not recognise. The participants were also asked for their thoughts on the issue of card fraud.

Further online research was carried out by Tickbox.net / Opinion Matters amongst 1,577 UK credit and debit card holders. The research was conducted between the 6th and 9th March 2009.

The CPP Group Plc

The CPP Group Plc (CPP) is an international marketing services business offering bespoke customer management solutions to multi-sector business partners designed to enhance their customer revenue, engagement and loyalty, whilst at the same time reducing cost to deliver significantly improved profitability.

This is underpinned by the delivery of a portfolio of complementary Life Assistance products, designed to help our mutual customers cope with the anxieties associated with the challenges and opportunities of everyday life.

Whether our customers have lost their wallets, been a victim of identity theft or are making plans for their retirement CPP can help remove the hassle from their lives leaving them free to enjoy life. Globally, our Life Assistance products and services are designed to simplify the complexities of everyday living whether these affect personal finances, home, travel, personal data or future plans. When it really matters, Life Assistance enables people to live life and worry less.

We have 11 million customers and more than 200 business partners across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific and employ 2,000 employees who handle 16 million consumer sales and service conversations each year.

In 2008, Group revenue was Pounds Sterling 259.5 million, an increase of more than 15 per cent over the previous year. This is more than five times the sales level of 2000.

What We Do:

CPP provides a range of assistance products and services that allow our business partners to forge closer relationships with their customers.

We have a solution for many eventualities, including:

- Insuring our customers' mobile phones

- Protecting the payment cards in our customers' wallets and purses, should these be lost or stolen

- Providing assistance and protection if a customer's keys are lost or stolen

- Providing advice, insurance and assistance to protect customers against the insidious crime of identity fraud

- Offering advice to people considering legal action and cover for the costs involved in taking action on a range of legal issues

- Providing discounts on travel and hotel bookings

- Monitoring the credit status of our customers

CPP is an award winning organisation:

- Finalists in the National Business Awards, 3i Growth Strategy category, 2008

- Finalist in the National Business Awards, Business of the Year category, 2007 and Highly Commended in 2008

- Named in the Sunday Times 2006, 2007 and 2008 HSBC Top Track 250 companies

- Regional winner of the National Training Awards, 2007

- Winner of the BITC Health, Work and Well-Being Award, 2007

- Highly Commended in the UK National Customer Service Awards, 2006

- Winner of the Tamworth Community Involvement Award, 2006. Finalist in 2008

- Highly Commended in The Press Best Link Between Business and Education, 2005 and 2006. Winner in 2007

- Award Finalist in the National Business Awards, Innovation category, 2005

- Award finalist for the 2003 The Royal Bank of Scotland Sunday Times Business Awards

- Recognised as one of the Growth Plus Europe 500 companies

For more information on CPP click on www.cppgroup.com.

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:


Contact Information

  • For more information or to arrange a time for interview with
    Michael Lynch, please call:
    Band & Brown Communications
    Eoghan Hughes
    020 7419 6976 / 07852 881 983
    Band & Brown Communications
    Hester Bray
    020 7419 7339 / 07963 187 029


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