TOWARDS THE "LESS CASH" SOCIETY
The use of plastic cards has risen dramatically over the past ten years and paying by plastic is fast becoming the preferred means of payment. In 1992, the number of purchases made with debit and credit cards increased by 18 per cent, while the number of cheque payments fell for the second year running. Moreover, plastic card usage, particularly in debit card transactions is, as highlighted by Steve Worthington in an earlier article in IJR&DM (Vol. 20 No. 7), likely to continue to escalate. The Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS), estimates that by the year 2000 there will be over four billion plastic card transactions made, compared with 400 million in 1985.
This is hardly surprising when you consider that in the UK alone, which is the world's largest user of plastic cards, there are over 80 million cards in circulation held by around 34 million cardholders -- more than two-thirds of the entire adult population. Furthermore, there are now more outlets than ever which accept plastic and more cash machines (ATMs) than there are bank branches. PLASTIC CARD CRIME
Unfortunately, the increased use of plastic is a contributing factor to the growth of plastic card fraud as a crime industry. Plastic card crime is a major problem with wide-reaching consequences -- causing concern not only for the banks and building societies but also for retailers and, on a personal level, for the cardholders themselves.
In 1992, plastic card fraud amounted to |pounds~165 million -- |pounds~5 every second -- in bank losses. The greatest loss, |pounds~93 million, was through credit/charge card fraud, while approximately three-quarters (78 per cent) of fraudulent transactions passed through Britain's shops and stores.
Furthermore, a rise in general crime levels -- from personal thefts to thefts from cars means that cardholders increasingly bear the …