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BBC Watchdog: Nectar Card Fraud

Consumer Champion, Television,

I was back in the BBC Watchdog studio last night for an item on how Nectar card fraud has been leaving some viewers with a decidedly sour taste in their mouths.

BBC Watchdog Nectar Card Fraud.
image credit: BBC

Reports of fraudsters targeting the Nectar loyalty scheme aren’t new, but a recent spate of activity has brought it back to the top of the Watchdog mailbag.

Nectar began rewarding shoppers in 2002, and now around 20 million members collect and spend points at a variety of high-street and online retailers. In February this year, Nectar was bought by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which now also owns catalogue chain Argos.

In the fraud, Nectar points are redeemed - often in high street stores - to buy goods. The first victims know is when they try to spend their Nectar balance and find instead that their account is empty. So prolific are the fraudsters that, in some cases, victims have even found they‘be been left with a negative balance.

There are some patterns to the fraud:

How does Nectar card fraud work?

That is the million Nectar point question. On the surface, this is very straightforward:

So, a natural conclusion would be that the fraud involves card cloning, whereby fake copies of victims’ cards are being made by fraudsters which are then used in-store.

Whatever Nectar knows about the fraud, however, it remains tight-lipped. Its typical response is:

We take security extremely seriously at Nectar and have an active programme of monitoring and remediation.

We ask people to treat their Nectar cards like they do their bank cards, in that if they notice suspicious activity or if it goes missing, we ask that they report it, so that we can block their accounts, protect their points and conduct a thorough probe.

Two things occur to me here:

How to keep your Nectar points safe

Nectar card fraud is a real cause for concern for its members, but Nectar's security is not - in my opinion - doing a good enough job of preventing it. As we don't know for sure exactly how it's happening, it's difficult to give specific advice, but here's what I do recommend:

Watchdog airs on Wednesday nights, BBC One at 8pm and is available on-demand from BBC iPlayer.

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