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London is UK's No.1 Credit card fraud hotspot

London is the capital of credit card fraud – and that’s official! The latest figures from Early Warning for Cardholder Not Present (CNP) fraud show that Greater London had the largest number of fraudulent transactions in the past year. It is followed by Manchester and Kilmarnock.

In each of these areas there were significantly higher numbers of fraudulent credit card purchases than anywhere else in the UK.

Early Warning, the organisation that helps retailers, the Police and banks monitor and counter on-line credit card fraud, has produced a map that identifies the postcode areas from which the fraudsters operate.

It is done by tracking the delivery addresses for fraudulently obtained goods – typically accommodation addresses and ‘dead letter boxes’. This is the only reliable method of mapping credit card fraud.

While Greater London as a whole beats the rest of the UK for credit card fraud, the problem is particularly serious in certain areas within London. In parts of Thamesmead for example. In certain parts of Thamesmead there are instances where whole streets are involved in this crime.

According to Early Warning, the areas with the biggest fraud problems are the Central London postcodes, together with Romford and Ilford in Essex, and Twickenham in Middlesex.

Outside London, cities and towns where CNP fraud is on the increase and which look set to make it into the top 10 hotspots next year include Bournemouth, Northampton, Portsmouth and Stockport. These are currently “Amber” areas on the Early Warning map that are rapidly “turning red”.

With the growth of internet shopping and trading, the opportunities for CNP fraud are growing constantly. Nationwide, CNP fraud last year cost £183.2 million (APACS).

Early Warning is regularly consulted by retailers, the Police and banks. Using Early Warning’s CardAware fraud detection systems, retailers and other on-line traders can instantly check credit card orders against a database of known frauds.

Andrew Goodwill, Managing Director of Early Warning, says: “We weren’t surprised when we realised that London had come out on top of the fraudsters’ league table, with several postcode areas showing a ‘very high’ incidence of fraudulent CNP purchases’.

“But what is surprising is the fact that some postcode areas both inside and outside the Capital that last year recorded only negligible numbers of frauds are now reporting ‘low’ or ‘medium’ numbers.

“Given that there are fluctuations within postcodes, it is a fact that no single area of the UK is untouched by this problem.”

So much so Early Warning has developed a on-line postcode risk assessment tool, which is freely available on their online merchants page, for all companies to use which gives an indication as to the postcodes CNP fraud status.

According to Early Warning’s figures, CNP fraud has shot up by 38% in the past 12 months alone, and is set to grow “at an exponential rate” in the years ahead, Goodwill adds.

“This is largely because the advent of ‘chip and pin’ makes it far more difficult for criminals to get away with using stolen credit cards in the shops, so they are turning to other methods, principally the internet. On-line fraud is so easy – the fraudster can operate from anywhere he likes, even abroad.”

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.