Counterfeits threaten gold cards

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE FUTURE of gold credit cards is under threat from counterfeiting, according to the head of fraud prevention at Barclaycard, Barry Fergus.

'In the gold products the losses in counterfeit have reached epidemic proportions,' Mr Fergus says in the Channel Four Television programme, Check Out 92, on card fraud to be broadcast tomorrow.

'If they are not brought under control, you have to question how much longer the product can be sustained,' he says. However, a spokeswoman for Barclays said the bank had no plans to withdraw gold cards, and that new technology was being developed to thwart the conterfeiters. 'The security of cards is being improved and features are being strengthened to make replication of the cards more difficult.'

She said the bank would unveil new technology to combat counterfeiting this week. 'We've been experimenting with finger-scanning and more sophisticated signature verification,' she said.

Royal Bank of Scotland has considered putting photographs on its cards, but a spokesman for Lloyds said the bank was 'not convinced this is the answer'.

Barclays said it had approximately 150,000 gold card customers, under the 'Premier' brand. 'Although this is a small proportion of the 8.7 million Barclaycards in circulation, they are very attractive to counterfeiters because of their high credit limits, so we tend to have more of a fraud problem with them,' the spokeswoman said.

Barclays lost pounds 36m as a result of credit card fraud last year. The total for the UK was pounds 165m.

The majority of the counterfeit cards are believed to originate in the Far East, especially Hong Kong.