The ineffective transit and delivery of payment card equipment could allow card fraudsters opportunities to generate illicit income.

A study by the carrier management firm Global Freight Solutions (GFS) found that two per cent of all shipments of credit, debit and charge cards and chip and PIN could either be delivered late or worse still fail to turn up at all. This could lead to fraudsters generating tens of millions of pounds in illicit income in the UK each year.

Neil Cotty, managing director of GFS, claimed that payment system manufacturers and their customers had a right to expect more pro-active handling of such equipment, as many companies only become aware of potential problems with security by checking the codes of packages which have not arrived.

He said: “The card payment industry is right to say that chip and PIN has reduced the potential for fraud. However, the security these machines or cards can provide is only as good as the security surrounding their delivery. Two per cent of late or lost deliveries may not sound a lot but the fact that the materials involved may each handle many thousands of pounds worth of purchases should be a real cause for concern.

“Companies despatching payment cards, ATMs or Point-of Sale machines will generally have to check individual parcel codes to find out where they might be. That paper chase creates a window of opportunity for criminals that can easily be shut.”

Latest estimates suggest that there may be as many as 500,000 different cash or payment point machines in operation in the UK. Cotty said that the constant movement of new, faulty and upgraded machines across the country indicated the potential for crime and the need to improve custody.

“Such measures not only stand to benefit the company which could potentially install a hacked payment machine and the customers whose cards might be abused, but the manufacturers of the equipment and the organisations which distribute credit, debit and charge cards,” he said.

“By removing the need to chase up every single parcel code from clients, we make our system more efficient and better for them. By being more pro-active, we enable manufacturers to keep clients better informed and therefore safer.”