A new anti-fraud system alerting people to suspicious purchases on their credit cards within minutes is to be launched.
Credit card fraud is increasingly sophisticated
The system, devised by MasterCard, is designed to speed up vital information to customers and reduce cases of multiple card fraud.
UK credit and debit card fraud cost £400m last year and criminal methods have become increasingly sophisticated.
MasterCard said the system would boost the rate of fraud detection and provide more protection to cardholders.
If they agree to sign up to the scheme, cardholders will receive a text message on their mobile phones immediately their bank is aware of a 'high risk' transaction on their card.
Cases of unusual transactions are currently dealt with manually by most banks, meaning it can take an hour or more to contact a customer.
MasterCard says the new system will trigger an automated response from banks allowing them to contact customers within minutes, potentially sending up to a 1,000 text messages an hour.
It believes the system - created in partnership with mobile payment firm mBlox - will boost card fraud detection rates to about 90% while reducing banks' operational costs.
"At the moment it may take anything from thirty minutes to a couple of hours before we reach the cardholder, even days," said Johan Gerber, associate vice president of risk products at MasterCard.
"We are really looking at scaling that down to minutes if not seconds," he added.
"It will have a definite impact on saving multiple frauds on a single account."
MasterCard will promote the new technology to leading banks - which issue credit cards - in the hope of making it available to consumers in the next few months.
The firm - which has 650 million customers worldwide - also plans to offer the technology to rival payment operators.
The total cost of plastic card fraud in the UK actually fell in 2003.
However, the most common form of card fraud - in which a consumer's card details are 'stolen' and used to make purchases by phone or over the internet - is on the rise.
"Credit card fraud remains a top priority for banks around the world and any technology that addresses this challenge is welcomed," said Phil Curtis, head of cards fraud at Lloyds TSB.