§ Mrs. Iris Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the most recent annual cost of credit card fraud. 
§ Ms Blears
The Government do not collect figures on the cost of credit card fraud but the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) assesses the cost of all plastic card fraud in 2002 (the most recent figures available) to be £424.6 million.
In April 2002, the Government launched a two-year pilot of a unique policing unit (the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU)) based in London, which works closely with the banking industry to reduce organised card and cheque fraud, using intelligence largely provided by the card industry. DCPCU had significant success in its first year including recovery of more than 4,000 cards and 525 cheques, resulting in 59 arrests. Potential savings amount to £13.35 million. DCPCU cases have so far led to 31 convictions, all following guilty pleas.
Government are actively supporting "Chip and PIN", a major finance and retail industry initiative which is the introduction of microchips into payment cards to help authentication combined with the introduction of PIN codes in place of signatures. The banking industry anticipates that, by 2005, the new Chip and PIN technology will eliminate over half of the predicted level of plastic card fraud in the UK.