France tops league for UK credit card fraud

11 June 2003
France, followed by Spain and the US, tops the table of credit card fraud against holidaymakers.

The research by Barclaycard shows that the three top countries accounted for nearly 80 per cent of unauthorised use of British-owned credit cards overseas last year. Australia and Italy completed the Barclaycard top five.

Although France tops the chart as the country that sees the greatest total amount defrauded from UK customers a year, it is Spain where holidaymakers face the greatest risk from credit card fraud, though the average amounts taken are smaller.

The highest average amount defrauded from British cards was £375 in Switzerland, the survey says.

The survey claims that the perpetrators are often organised gangs using sophisticated technology to steal or copy cards.

The most common form of fraud is 'skimming', which is when criminals copy the magnetic strip on the back of cards, using a handheld card reader, and then produce a duplicate, or clone card.

Barclaycard states that credit and debit card fraud has increased by 53 per cent in the past two years, mostly as a result of the growing involvement of organised gangs.

The Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) places the total annual cost to banks and customers of credit and debit card fraud at nearly £430m.

However, Brits seem undeterred by the increase in fraud. Spending on Visa debit cards between January and March this year increased by 11.4 per cent over the same period last year, according to the latest data from Visa, and Credit card spending was also up by 9.8 per cent. Total spending in the quarter was £48.2 billion.

Marc O'Brien, Vice President of Visa UK, commented, 'We've seen a steady rise in both credit and debit transactions over the year but it's interesting to see that debit transactions are catching up fast with credit.

'It seems to indicate that people are increasingly using their plastic over cash.'