Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Plastic card fraud goes back up

Chip-and-pin card reader
Chip-and-pin technology should be standard across Europe soon

There was a 25% rise in the fraudulent use of UK credit and debit cards last year, with losses amounting to £535m, according to the banking industry.

The Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) said the first rise in three years was mainly due to stolen and counterfeit cards used abroad.

Card fraud overseas rose by 77% last year to £208m, 39% of the total.

But losses also rose as cards were used dishonestly to buy more items over the phone, internet or by mail order.

It means that fraud where the credit or debit card was "not present" now amounts to more than half of all card losses, here and abroad, at £291m.


Taken together, all types of card fraud committed within the UK went up slightly, by 6% to £328m.

The opportunities for criminals to use our stolen magnetic stripe details overseas will decrease
Sandra Quinn, Apacs

But that was still noticeably lower than a few years ago before the introduction of chip-and-pin technology.

The absence of this technology in some foreign countries has made the use of skimmed or cloned cards abroad relatively more attractive to criminals, said Apacs.

"Although card fraud levels have now begun to go up again due to fraud abroad and card-not-present fraud losses, chip-and-pin has proven to be an undoubted success in reducing card fraud on the UK high street," said Sandra Quinn of Apacs.

"And, as more countries follow our lead and upgrade to chip-and-pin, the opportunities for criminals to use our stolen magnetic stripe details overseas will decrease," she added.

Fraud abroad

Banks throughout Europe have agreed to bring in chip-and-pin cards by 2010.

They hope to emulate the success of the industry in the UK where fraud on lost or stolen cards, including those stolen in the post, has fallen to its lowest level for ten years.

Hand-in-hand with this has gone a big drop in losses from fraudulent transactions in shops, stores and supermarkets which, although up very slightly last year, are still running at a third of the level seen in 2004.

Losses at cash machines are also down, falling by 44% in the past year to £35m.

Your comments:

i have reported a credit card fraudster to the HFC bank a couple of times. i had to insist they take the name, address and phone number of the crook. i offered them evidence but they don't want to get involved. do they leave these problems to insurance companies ?
Richard, selby uk

I'm unconvinced by APACS spokeswoman's claim of "our lead". A lot of western Europe had chip-and-pin several years before the UK - we followed them. If she'd said "Europe's lead" it'd be more accurate.
Iain Macbriar, Worcester, England

Any reason why the UK is claiming "our lead" in the use of PINs? France for example started using them years before the UK.
Bruce Osborne, Horndean Hants UK

Fortunately I've never suffered problems with fraud. However since the introduction of 'chip-and-pin' I've been having repeated problems with payment being refused when the local card reader contacts the MasterCard system here in Brazil. For a while I thought things were getting better, but just recently even shops where previously I've used my card with no problems are giving a 'transaction not allowed' message. I've contacted MasterCard several times, but so far the problem still persists. Has anyone else suffered similar problems?
Jonathan, São Paulo, Brazil

Having lived in Australia for 3 years, I decided to keep my UK Bank and Credit Cards as paying for gifts was easier on line than being charged exorbitant rates for postage. Last year our UK bank contacted us to query 3 large transactions on our UK credit card account for electrical items and flights in the UK. At some point our card had been scanned and was being fraudulently used. To the banks credit, they picked it up and the 6000 pound bill was quickly sorted out in our favour
Nick Butterworth, Perth, Western Australia

My card was cloned, probably when I was at a cash machine, and used abroad in Slovakia. Fortunately without my PIN my card declined for them and I lost nothing. However, I think banks should give us two cards. One to use in the UK only and the other one we can use abroad only.
Paul Lloyd Johnson, Canterbury, Uk

information is what can defeat this fraud. Example, with every Credit Card transaction, you get a SMS text to your phone from the bank, with a e-mail as well, telling you in real time, how much, and where. This alert is powerful, and means the fraud had little time.Wake up banks, wake up..
John, ex-pat Shanghai, China

I'm not worried about credit card fraud. But I am annoyed with my bank for declining my card as part of their fraud prevention strategy every time I go abroad on business or do anything slightly out of the routine. Often this is for the most trivial amount (eg. a £20 train ticket, which meant I missed my train home!)
Rolf Howarth, Uk

I love the way that the Apacs spokesperson says "as more countries follow our lead and upgrade to chip-and-pin". Nonsense. The truth is that we followed the French lead; they were using chip and pin long before the British banks.
Peter Ceresole, London, England

I am in the middle of my second ever "disputed" transaction from Jan on my remaining CCard. Its a "holder not present" for £195, this time apparently in the UK. I say this time, despite being VERY careful about how I use cards / give my details out etc, The common demoninator with BOTH cards... They are the only ones I've had that have overseas helpdesks / data management. So much for the DPA and security being the same as the UK. I'll do without CCards rather than risk this for a third time.
Tim, nr buxton

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