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Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 18:51 GMT

Business: Your Money

Card payment fraud jumps

Magnetic stripe cards are being phased out to combat fraud

Credit and debit card fraud in the UK continues to rise, with a sharp jump in the abuse of cards in remote transactions such as those over the Internet.

Use of counterfeit cards and fraudulent purchases over the Internet, by phone and via mail order, all contributed to an 11% jump of fraud damages to £135m in 1998, according to figures from the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS).

Fraudulent remote use of plastic cards - where the card is not physically presented to the seller - jumped 36% to £13.6m while counterfeit card use rose 32% to £26.8m.

[ image: Remote purchasing open to fraud]
Remote purchasing open to fraud
Remote use of cards for payments is more open to abuse because buyers can give details of the card number and holder's name without having to tender the card for verification. In the case of telephone and Internet payments, customers do not have to authorise a transaction with their signature either.

APACS says it was not clear how much of the £13.6m worth of remote payment fraud was Internet-related but that all remote methods of payment are growing rapidly in the UK.

Lost and stolen cards

However, although falling, the biggest source of financial loss from abuse of plastic credit remains that from lost or stolen cards, at £65.8m last year.

APACS has embarked on a programme to replace 112m magnetic-strip cards, 530,000 retail transaction terminals and 25,000 cash dispensers with new embedded-chip technology to help make credit transactions more resistant to fraud.

Kevin Flanagan, Chairman of APACS' Plastic Fraud Prevention Forum said: "The partnership approach to fraud prevention which has been taken by the banking industry, police and retailers, has yielded some successes in fighting plastic card fraud.

"However, it is essential that we maintain vigilance to ensure that we continue to foil the efforts of criminals who attempt to exploit any weaknesses in our defence."

APACS offers advice to retailers to help prevent card fraud.

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