AN ESTIMATED total of £1.2 million was stolen from the residents of Hillingdon by fraudsters in the last year.
Figures show that there were 685 offences with 1,623 victims of crime, and police believe this could be dramatically cut if people were better educated about the risks in using credit cards.
Detective Sergeant Tony Mitchell of Hillingdon CID is leading the campaign by trying to boost awareness of the increasingly-rife problem.
He said: "Free money- this is what a modern day fraudster is thinking every time he wakes up in the morning.
"How easy is it to get hold of someone's card details? How careful are you when it comes to securing your information?
"Let's say for example you order a take-away for delivery and pay on your card. What details have you given them? Name, address, card number, expiry date, security code, how easy was that?
"The same can be said for ordering items over the internet or the telephone. How well do we know the person on the other end of the line?"
UK card fraud showed that in 2008 nationally there were losses of over £608 million, with the two biggest areas of fraud being transactions not protected by chip and pin, and card offences abroad.
DS Mitchell added: "First and foremost be sure that details you give out are going to a trusted site, a well established chain of shops, known persons that you may have had dealings with before, and secure web pages.
"Be careful as some fraudsters use fraudulent pages which look like PayPal but isn't.
"One noticeable difference is the spelling, I have noticed one called PayPall.
"Fraud scams are being committed over the internet at an alarming rate on sites such as Ebay, Gumtree, Autotrader and the likes.
"All these sites have fraud investigation teams looking at the adverts, but sometimes bogus ones slip through their net.
"Never pass details of any transaction codes of money sent through Western Union, Post Office, or MoneyGram.
"Once the fraudster has this code, he can withdraw the money from anywhere at any branch."
Finally, DS Mitchell has one last snippet of advice for residents.
"Make sure you check you bank statement regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately. Ensure your current address is kept up to date with anyone that is going to be sending your financial information.
"So much mail gets delivered to previous addresses that it can, and does, get into the hands of fraudsters."
For more information contact...
Met Police: 0300 123 1212 or www.metpolice.co.uk
Citizens Advice: www.adviceguide.org.uk
PayPal: 08707 307 191 or www.paypal.co.uk
PayPoint: 0800 0258 300 or www.paypoint.net