Teenager hit by Wonga fraud as fraud complaints rise

01/05/13

Simon Oliver

There's been a growing number of complaints from victims about bank fraud, according to the BBC's Watchdog programme.

It says it has heard from more than 350 people who claim their accounts have been raided for loans they didn't take out.

They include 16-year-old student Simon Oliver from East Sussex.

"I was at Gatwick airport on a school trip and went to pay for some food and my card didn't work," he said.

Fraudulent

"It said insufficient funds which I thought was strange. I tried to get money out again on the way home but it was the same problem."

When Simon Oliver, who was 15 at the time, returned to the UK he says he received a bank letter saying he was overdrawn. On his statement it showed payday loan company Wonga had removed £260.54.

We regret every case of fraud that gets through and, like every major web company, we are committed to cracking down on cybercrime. We are not complacent
Statement from Wonga

"I thought to myself, 'That's worrying. I've never had dealings with these people before. Why would I use them? What's going on?'

"You have to be 18 anyway to get a loan from them."

Simon was told by his bank that it was a fraudulent transaction.

"I was really shocked," he said. "Hearing that word fraud, it's something I'd associate with an adult. I'm a teenager who doesn't use credit cards or anything like that."

The situation was resolved through his bank quickly and the money was recovered but Simon says the experience has affected him.

"I'm still worried about using my card. I always question where I'm using it, how I'm using it just because you'll never know what could go wrong."

Credit rating

Watchdog claims Wonga is not checking applications closely enough because part of their appeal is giving money quickly.

The advice from Watchdog is that people need to be careful with how they get rid of bank statements and if it does happen to check it doesn't affect your credit rating.

Tips on preventing fraud

    • Keep your cards or card details in your sight when making a transaction
    • Don't write down your passwords, login details and PINs
    • Shred statements and receipts
    • Only give your card details in a telephone transaction if you are familiar with the company
    • Access internet banking or shopping sites by typing the address into your browser
    • Always log out after shopping online and save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase

"My bank says my credit rating should be fine," said Simon Oliver. "I'd be highly irritated if it was affected because none of it was my fault. Anytime I apply for something it will be in the back of my mind."

In a statement Wonga said: "We regret every case of fraud that gets through and, like every major web company, we are committed to cracking down on cybercrime, which is costing Britain an estimated £27 billion a year.

"As we explained on the show last year, fraud is an on-going challenge and we are continually investing in our anti-fraud measures.

"The unique speed of our lending decisions, which are automated using sophisticated algorithms and thousands of pieces of public data, does not undermine their accuracy and our advanced systems catch the majority of criminal attempts. Unfortunately no solution is 100% foolproof but we are never complacent."

Find out more on BBC One Watchdog at 8pm on Wednesday 1 May

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