Today is Take 5 Day, when the UK’s largest banking and credit providers urge consumers to take five simple steps to avoid fraud. Caitlin Mountford became very aware of her own finances after her missing family cat almost cost her thousands.
When her parents went away on holiday, 25-year-old Caitlin Mountford, a logistics and supply chain manager from Thackley in West Yorkshire, agreed to take care of the family cat.
Little did she know that the cat’s antics were about to trigger a chain of events that put her finances at serious risk.
“Everything was going smoothly, there was no drama until one afternoon, the cat disappeared,” she said. “It was unusual, so I went out to look for him in the car. When I saw him run across the road in front of me, I pulled over, jumped out and followed him.”
Caitlin had left her purse in the footwell behind the driver’s seat when she got out of the car, and thought nothing of the three men she saw nearby as she gave chase.
“I caught the cat and went home at about 6:30 p.m. Everything seemed fine; my purse was still exactly where I left it.”
However, an hour later, she received a text from MBNA alerting her to unusual transactions on her card. It was the first and only notification she received.
“I was shocked,” she said. “When I checked my purse, four credit and bank cards had been taken, along with loyalty cards and cash. Only MBNA got in touch with me to let me know. I called my other providers and cancelled those cards too, but without that initial contact from MBNA, I could have been oblivious for a day or more as the thieves racked up thousands of pounds in my name.”
The three men Caitlin had seen had gained entry to her car and removed key items from her purse before replacing it. They then split up with the cards and used them in different locations, initially for small purchases such as contactless transactions.
“It’s definitely made me aware of what I am carrying around with me at any time,” she said. “I ask myself, ‘do I really need this card on me? Am I going to need or use it?’ It also showed me how easy it is to become a victim of fraud.”
One of the Take 5 steps is to “stay in control.” Caitlin learned that in every situation, if you have your cards with you, remember to stay in control and keep them secure. Fortunately, the vigilance of MBNA’s Fraud Department meant she didn’t suffer any negative consequences.
“What Caitlin’s case highlights is that we all need to be alert to fraud,” said Jamie O’Connor, Fraud Department manager at MBNA. “Consumers need to keep security at the forefront of their minds, whether online or in the real world, to reduce their risk. That will make it easier for providers to step in quickly with our own safety nets for those who do fall victim.”
“MBNA takes its responsibility to prevent fraud very seriously. Our robust analysis of fraud and spending patterns meant we were able to identify quickly that something wasn’t right and contact Caitlin to make her aware.”
“By working together, providers and consumers can significantly reduce fraud and limit the damage done if it occurs.”
To find out more about Take 5 and fraud prevention, visit www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk.