HC Deb 09 September 2004 vol 424 cc1339-40W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the current levels of consumer credit card fraud; and what steps her Department is taking to tackle it. [186354]

Ms Blears

I have been asked to reply

The Government do not collect figures on the cost of credit card fraud but the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) estimates the cost of plastic card fraud on UK-issued cards in 2003 to have been £402.4 million, a decrease of five per cent. over the previous year.

The Home Office provided £1.4 million over two years (towards a total cost of £5.6 million) to fund, jointly with the banking industry, a specialist police unit, the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU). The pilot, which ran from April 2002 to April 2004, was successful in detecting or preventing significant fraud on the banks and card issuers. The Unit is continuing with full financial support from the industry. The Home Office continues to chair the Steering Group.

We are also providing significant extra resources for fraud policing more generally. The Home Office and the Corporation of London have each agreed to contribute £1 million towards the cost of an expanded City of London Police fraud squad. The Home Office has also met capital start up costs of the new unit. This funding will enable the City of London Police to expand its fraud squad significantly and take a lead role in the investigation of fraud in London and the south east, including providing police resources for the majority of Serious Fraud Office cases.

A great deal of fraud can be prevented if organisations have proper fraud prevention measures in place. Prevention initiatives therefore complement fraud investigation and prosecution.

We have encouraged the financial and retail sectors to work towards early implementation of more secure systems to combat fraud, including the introduction of microchips into payment cards to help authentication, and the use of PIN codes in place of signatures.

The Home Office has launched a website to combat internet fraud. The "e-tailing mini site" (part of the Crime Reduction Website) provides information to help both businesses and consumers protect themselves when using the internet.

We have also recently published, jointly with the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS), a leaflet for members of the public about safe credit card use. Supplies of the leaflet have been sent to all police forces and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in England and Wales.