As credit and debit card payments have become the primary payment instrument in retail transactions, awareness of identity theft and concerns over the safety of payments has increased. Traditional forms of card payment fraud are still an important threat, but fraud resulting from unauthorized access to payment data appears to be rising, and we are only beginning to get a sense of the dimensions of the problem. ; Thus far, the role of public policy has been to encourage the card payment industry to limit fraud by developing its own standards and procedures. Whether this policy stance is sufficient depends on the effectiveness of industry efforts to limit fraud in light of the dramatic shift toward card payments. ; Sullivan provides an overview of card payment fraud in the United States. He develops a preliminary estimate of the rate of U.S. card payment fraud and suggests that such fraud is higher than in several other countries for which data are available. The U.S. payment industry is taking steps to combat payment fraud, but progress has been slowed by conflicts of interest, inadequate incentives, and lack of coordination. Thus, policymakers should monitor the card payment industry to see if it better coordinates security efforts, and if not, consider actions to help overcome barriers to effective development of security.
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