As consumers gear up to do their Christmas shopping online they are being warned about increasing volumes of remote credit card fraud.
A report from the Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) states that this type of fraud has risen by 33 per cent over the past two years, and now accounts for the second largest share of the £411.6m fraud total on UK-issued debit and credit cards.
Card-not-present fraud cost businesses and consumers £109.6m in the 12 months to June 2003. Only counterfeit card fraud cost more, at £128.8m.
But while fraud is rising, it is not increasing at the same rate as e-commerce. A new report from analyst Forrester says that UK shoppers this year will spend double last year's online total of £1.1bn.
When buying online, thieves usually go for high-priced products such as electrical and computer goods so they can get 'value' from someone else's card before it is missed and stopped.
But while chip and Pin cards will help prevent criminals using fake signatures, they will not reduce online fraud.
Online purchases do not need a signature, instead requiring consumers to input a three- or four-digit code from their card.
But consumers doing too little to protect themselves must take some responsibility for the rise in fraud. Apacs warned that thieves obtain credit card details in a number of ways, including from receipts and from bank and credit card statements.
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