Apacs, the UK industry association representing plastic card issuers, has revealed that card fraud committed abroad on UK cards has fallen to a five year low.
The fall is mainly attributable to improved fraud detection systems that enable card companies to spot unusual spending patterns, says Apacs. In addition the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) – a specialist police team sponsored by the banking industry - has successfully cracked several international card counterfeiting rings.
Total fraud committed abroad on UK issued cards during 2004 was £92.5 million, down from a high of £138.4 million in 2001, and the lowest figure since 1999 - despite a 93 per cent rise in the use of UK-issued plastic cards abroad during the same time period (1999 to 2004). The figure of £92.5 million accounts for 18 per cent of the total of UK card fraud of almost £505 million in 2004.
Apacs also published a top 10 ranking of ‘hot spot’ countries. Just under half (48 per cent) of overseas card fraud took place in just three countries – the USA (18 per cent, £16.4m), France (17 per cent, £15.8m) and Spain (13 per cent, £12.3m). Fraud in France showed the most significant year-on-year fall – down from £23.6 million in 2003, the highest level of fraud on UK-issued cards for any country that year.
Five of the 10 hot spot nations are now in Europe, a fall from a total of seven in 2003. Ireland and Switzerland are no longer in the top 10, whilst Japan and Canada have moved up to numbers five and eight respectively.
Apacs has warned UK holidaymakers not to become complacent about using their cards abroad, despite the fall.