Losses from debit and credit card fraud increased by 26% in the first half of the year, driven by a 126% rise in fraud on UK-issued cards being used overseas, figures from the UK payments association Apacs have revealed.

But domestic card fraud has fallen by 11% at UK retailers and by 57% at UK cash machines, as the introduction of chip-and-PIN has made it harder for fraudsters to commit card fraud in the UK.

Some European countries have yet to roll out chip-and-PIN technology, and Apacs said these countries were now the target of criminals, who can copy the magnetic stripe data on cards to create fake cards to be used in countries that have yet to upgrade.

“However, as more countries rollout this secure technology the opportunities for criminals to use fake magnetic stripe cards overseas will decrease,” said Apacs. The European banking industry has set itself the target of completing its chip card rollout by 2010.

Losses from online, phone and mail order shopping fraud have also continued to increase year-on-year, though Apacs said the increase should be seen in the context of increasing numbers of people shopping online and ever-growing numbers of online transactions.

According to Apacs, the number of adults shopping online has increased by 157% in the last five years, up from 11 million in 2001 to over 28 million last year. By comparison, online, phone and mail order fraud has grown by 122% during the same time period. The overall fraud to turnover ratio on online card transactions has also decreased – down from 0.7% in 2004 to 0.5% in 2006.

And online banking fraud losses fell by 67% from £22.4m in the first six months of 2006 to £7.5m for same period this year. Apacs put the decrease down to online banks having implemented more measures to detect and prevent fraud, and noted there was also an unusually high level of online banking fraud in the first few months of 2006.

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