London is the UK capital of credit card fraud, according to a study by online fraud prevention firm Early Warning.
Early Warning's latest figures for Cardholder Not Present (CNP) fraud show that Greater London clocked up largest number of fraudulent transactions in the past year, followed by Manchester and Kilmarnock.
Early Warning has produced a map (PDF) that identifies the postcode areas from which the fraudsters operate, put together by tracking the delivery addresses for fraudulently obtained goods – typically accommodation addresses and "dead letter boxes".
It reckons the technique represents the only reliable method for mapping credit card fraud. The areas with the biggest fraud problems are the Central London postcodes, together with Romford and Ilford in Essex, and Twickenham in Middlesex.
Outside the capital, cities and towns where CNP fraud is on the increase include Bournemouth, Northampton, Portsmouth, and Stockport.
Nationwide, CNP fraud last year cost £183.2m, according to figures from banking organisation APACS. Stats from Early Warning say CNP fraud has shot up by 38 per cent in the past 12 months.
Using Early Warning's CardAware fraud detection systems, retailers and other online traders can check credit card orders against a database of known frauds. The firm has added a postcode-based risk assessment tool. It reports that the geographical spread of CNP fraud changes rapidly.
"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," said Andrew Goodwill, managing director of Early Warning. "No single area of the UK is untouched by this problem."
The introduction of Chip and PIN systems on credit and debit cards in the UK to validate purchases as an alternative to signatures has pushed fraud onto the internet, Goodwill added. ®