§ John Barrett
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on trends in credit card fraud over the last 10 years; 
(2) what steps he is taking to tackle credit card fraud. 
§ Mr. Denham
The Government recognise that plastic card fraud has been a large and rapidly growing problem in the United Kingdom (UK) since the mid-1990s, with losses having increased from £165 million in 1992 to £411.4 million' in 2001. The steep rise has been caused by high levels of organised card crime alongside increases in the number and usage of payment cards.
Significant work is under way to combat plastic card crime. The Home Office has held discussions with the finance and retail sectors and the police to establish and promote best practice in protecting cards. A major initiative which has emerged is the planned introduction of microchips into payment cards to help authentication. This is to be combined with the introduction of PIN codes in place of signatures. The banking industry foresees that by 2005 the technology will have eliminated up to 80 per cent. of plastic card fraud in the UK.
The Government are pleased that the banks and retailers are committed to introducing new technology that is so vital in fighting plastic card fraud. The UK has been leading the world in creating a global standard for chip and design that guarantees very high levels of security whenever consumers use their cards. It is vital that we use this technology to combat fraudsters who find it all too easy to forge genuine cardholders' signatures.
The Home Office is also supporting a two-year pilot of a unique policing unit, the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit. The unit, based in London, is working closely with the banking industry to reduce organised card and cheque fraud across England and Wales. It is estimated that savings of up to £16 million per year may be achieved in each year of operation.
1 APACS Fraud in Focus 2002.