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Half of credit card problems are Web related

19 July 1999

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Security for virtualized datacentres

It was five years ago today... Statistics, eh? The recent rumpus with the MPAA's findings on illegal Internet movie downloads got us thinking whether there had ever been a happier, simpler age where the facts were presented straight, and without obfuscation. The answer was no:

Half of credit card problems are Web related

By Lucy Sherriff

Published Monday 19th July 1999 16:20 GMT

This week, the Investors Chronicle (IC) reports that problems are being reported with 50 per cent of Internet credit card transactions. Obviously interested, this Register reporter went digging for more details.

A phone call or two later, it transpired that not only had the IC got the wrong end of the statistic - Visa actually found that 47 per cent of all problems being reported were Internet related, which is kinda different - but the financial reference mag was quoting data from a nine month old survey. Still, the figures are interesting. Although it only accounts for one per cent of all sales, the Internet is causing more than its fair share of problems for Visa customers.

Of the 47 per cent of Internet related problems, 22 per cent were fraudulent transactions, the remaining 78 per cent could be anything from late delivery to the wrong goods turning up. But there is no way of distinguishing the cases of stolen credit cards from Internet security failures, so the figures don't really give a clear indication of the state of play for ecommerce - whether that’s today or nine months ago when the survey took place.

The Investors Chronicle article left the impression that the Internet is somehow sparking a new type of credit card fraud, but it ain't necessarily so. Consumers are probably as safe sending confidential data across the net as they are using the phone to make a credit card booking.


Of course, those who want to see how stats are really generated should mosey on down to our own Mother of all Polls, appositely entitled "Who conducts the crappiest polls?"

As for the small matter of the Internet sparking a new type of credit card fraud, 97 per cent of all phishers we contacted said that the assertion was utter nonsense. ®

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