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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 15:01 GMT
Crackdown on credit-card fraud
Credit-card machine
Counterfeit card fraud has risen by 50% in the past year
Police, banks and retailers have joined forces to crack down on counterfeit credit cards, which cost the credit industry a record 138m over the last year.

Counterfeit fraud increased by 50% last year, according to the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS).

Under a new "Skimming Crackdown", shop assistants, petrol forecourt attendants and waiters are being urged to report card counterfeiters to Crimestoppers for a minimum 500 reward.

A new fraud squad to fight credit card and cheque fraud, as revealed by BBC News Online in July, has been announced and is expected to start work in early 2002.

Skimming

Skimming is the most common method of counterfeit fraud.

The magnetic strip on a credit or debit card is copied by swiping it through handheld card reader.

The data is then used to make fake cards.

Total fraud losses to UK-issued cards increased by 32% to cost 373.7m in the year to August 2001, with skimming accounting for 40% of losses.

Skimming is often linked with serious organised crimes such as drug trafficking

Crackdown

"Highly organised criminals bribe or threaten people working in petrol stations, restaurants and shops to skim customer cards for them," said Melanie Hubbard of Card Watch, APACS' fraud prevention programme.

"Staff in restaurants, petrol stations and shops are urged to call Crimestoppers anonymously if they know anybody involved.

"Skimming may sound like easy money a first, but getting involved with these criminals and indirectly with the other crimes they fund is a serious mistake."

Under the new initiative, funded by credit-card providers, people who report skimming will be offered a minimum reward of 500 for information leading to a conviction.

A two-year pilot off a national cheque and plastic card fraud squad will begin in early 2002 to focus on the organised crime syndicates behind skimming.

Plans for the pilot squad, principally funded by banks and building societies, follow talks between APACS, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office.

Crimestoppers: 0800 555111

See also:

18 Jul 01 | Business
Banks to help fund fraud force
11 Jul 01 | Business
Lloyds TSB customers hit by fraud
04 Oct 01 | Business
One in five on credit 'blacklist'
13 Aug 01 | Consumer
How good is your credit?
05 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Brown attacked over tax credit campaign
17 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Widdecombe hit by credit card fraud
26 Oct 01 | Business
Rich increasingly 'sucked into debt'
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