Credit card fraud: '57c for every $1k'

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Australian Institute of Criminology finds fraud up 55 percent.

The Australian Institute of Criminology has revealed that fraud accounted for 57.15 cents of every $1,000 transacted using credit and charge cards in 2009.

The institute said in a report that credit card fraud had increased 55 percent since 2006, when it accounted for  only 36.93 cents in every $1,000 transacted.

By comparison, the institute saw only a slight increase in debit card-related fraud, while cheque fraud continued its long-term decline.

The data came from the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), which coordinated and managed payment clearing systems nationally.

In total, the number of fraud offences recorded by state and territory police rose in 2008-9 to 95,032 offences, although the figure had fluctuated widely since 2002-3.

However, the report noted that fraud was "believed to be one of the most under-reported offences, with less than 50 percent of incidents being reported to police or other authorities".

These statistics were reports only (i.e. they had not been tested in court). That meant that a court could re-classify or downgrade the offence category, or decide there was insufficient evidence to convict the alleged offender.

Of the reports that went to court, three quarters of the 5,865 defendants charged with a simple (in legal parlance, 'summary') fraud offence in 2008-9 were referred by Centrelink.

More serious indictable fraud charges were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by the Australian Federal Police in just under half of all such cases.

The institute provided some breakdowns of offender data for fraud and deception by age and gender but cautioned that it aggregated data only for three states and therefore national trends could not be extrapolated.

Similarly it attempted to build a picture of cybercrime but noted that its data did not come from police database records.

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