Fraud losses on UK cards tumbled by more than a quarter - to £440 million - last year, the first fall since 2006, according to figures from the UK Cards Association.
Overall, UK card fraud fell 28%, or £170 million, between 2008 and 2009. Card not present fraud was down 19%, to £266.4 million while losses from skimming and cloning plummeted 52% to £80.9 million. Fraud on lost or stolen cards, ID theft and mail non-receipt all also fell.
Retail face-to-face losses were down 27% to £72.1 million with ATM fraud down 20% to £36.7 million. Card fraud committed in the UK was down 16% to £317.7 million and fraud abroad - which has risen steadily in recent years because of the introduction of Chip and PIN in the UK - fell 47% to £122.7 million.
The Association says there is no one reason for the dramatic fall, citing the combined force of industry initiatives such as chip and PIN, the increasing use of sophisticated fraud detection tools by banks and retailers and the work of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit.
For CNP fraud, the group claims the continuing growth in the use of MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa by both online retailers and cardholders has stymied crooks.
Melanie Johnson, chair, UK Cards Association, says: "We recognise that cards will always be targeted by criminals, so we are determined not only to continue to prevent, detect and deter those who are behind this type of crime, but also to make sure that innocent victims don't lose out."
There is less encouraging news in relation to online banking fraud, with losses totalling £59.7 million in 2009, a 14% rise on the previous year. This is largely due to criminals using more sophisticated methods, notably malware, which targets vulnerabilities in PCs, rather than the banks' own systems which are more difficult to attack. There were also more than 51,000 phishing incidents recorded during 2009, a 16% increase on the amount seen in 2008.
Phone banking losses totalled £12.1 million in 2009, the first time they have been recorded. Cheque fraud dropped 29% to £29.8 million.
David Cooper, chairman, Fraud Control Steering Group, says: "Although online banking fraud losses have shown a year-on-year increase, card fraud remains a main focus of criminal activity. However, the industry remains committed to containing and reducing all areas of fraud. To this end, we will continue our partnership approach - working with law enforcement, retailers, consumers and the Home Office - to tackle fraud head-on."