back to article MPs call for crackdown on pre-paid credit cards

The government has been urged by MPs to tighten controls on pre-paid credit cards, with claims they help child abusers avoid detection online. Labour MP Geraint Davies said the cards were routinely used by paedophiles to hide their identities as he proposed a bill on Wednesday to force credit card companies to act. He wants …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    God we are ruled by morons.

    Do they even have any evidence that this is the case?

    And I'm pretty sure they're rather traceable as I'd expect that the card has an identifier that will flag up where the card was topped up and at what time, most of these locations will have some form of cctv or a person with a memory of somesort (neither are perfect, but likely easier to track then stolen cards/details)

    Should Banks be liable for the abuse when a card is stolen and used? Or just the poor sod whose details were stolen?

    Joined up thinking? We've heard of it.

    1. scrubber


      Why would we need evidence when this is about protecting children? Al you need to do is mention children (or drugs) and evidence takes a back seat to knee jerk reactions.

      Tell you what though, now that this has been publicised I bet a lot of pedos will go and buy them rather than use their own credit cards. Talk about an own goal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @AC 15:05

      You pretty much nailed my first thought on reading this: Is there any evidence or is this just a shabby attempt at self-publicity?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Think of the children!

      Oh wait, isn't that what Gary Glitter does?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      god help us all

      I bet you these cards are used to buy made-up drugs like cake.

  2. Dazed and Confused

    Needs to be an international initive

    There is no good banning these in the UK when you can walk into any store in the US (or I guess anywhere else on the planet) and buy one of these things.

    Pre-paid credit cards are a great anti fraud tool. Rather than giving companies I don't know and don't necessarily trust my real credit card number, which could then be hit for lots of dosh and I'd end up with a big argument with the cc firm, I just use a pre-paid one when shopping on sites I don't know too well. That way I know the sum total of my exposure is £100. Much safer. Not sure I feel the need for an anonymous one, especially now the Stalinist dictatorship have been given the heave ho.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      @ Dazed and Confused

      Great anti fraud tool? Doesn't your bank offer a "virtual credit card" service?

  3. Cameron Colley

    I want one!

    I had heard about these things but thought they were only available to customers of some online banks as numbers to be used for online transactions. I had heard about them in the US too.

    Now I know they're in the UK I wonder how I've missed them and where I can get one. There are plenty of places, from untrustworthy looking fuel stations to overseas online retailers where I wouldn't want to give my real credit card details for fear of being wiped out -- but one of these would be ideal.

    So, before they go, does anyone know where I could buy one?

    1. Nigel 11

      Get one ...

      They're in most of my (London inner-city) corner stores. Go anywhere you'd expect to find significant numbers of people who don't use regular banking services. Same sorts of places you'll find paypoint terminals and pre-paid phone cards.

      I don't imagine it would work if these MPs got their way. Pre-paid credit cards, like any other credit cards, are valid world-wide, so I would expect those with something to hide to buy theirs abroad. The people they would hurt would be people who CANNOT get a regular credit card: undischarged bankrupts, people with awful credit scores, recent immigrants with no UK credit history, under-18s, etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      3V Card

      3V Card is good. You top it up at PayPoint locations such as the newsagents and the receipt they give you has a Visa number with CVV and expiry on it. You can top up £20 for free or pay I think £1.50 for topping up another amount.

      There are quite a few pre-paid suppliers in the UK, but not as many as the US

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes, Yes Please, YES PLEASE AAAH YES YES YES

    More assault on privacy! In the name of the chiiildruuun!!!1!oneeleventy!

    Because financial institutions, beyond requiring retailers to keep enough personal information to impersonate us, also should pass moral judgement on what we do. Because even the police isn't allowed to do that, that's what we have judges for.

    Somebody please smack these stale bozos over the head with a large frying pan.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheapest way to send money

    I have used pre pay cards for years, both as emergency money when I am traveling, and as a way to send money to people I know abroad.

    There are also very useful for families with teenage children who want some independence, they can have a card with a fixed amount of spending power; it is more secure than cash and can be used for on-line purchases where the E-store does not accept the few Debit cards under 18's can apply for; and as mentioned, if the E-store turns out to be dodgy, they cant take very much.

    This MP is a Tw@t!!!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Commercial CP is a Myth

    ...Certainly on the scale this latest chancer would like you to believe. Go read CEOP's latest review for '09-10. It's a free download from their site - why, even a troglodyte politician could manage that, I'm sure. Inside, you'll find tons of interesting facts, figures and observations about the current state of hosted CP worldwide. It's not hard to miss CEOP's frank admissions that 'most' CP is freely distributed online via social networking sites and public (i.e. not hidden) image hosting sites. The reality of 'commercial' CP, according to this source (and they should know, one hopes) is that it has been in decline for years and is now very much on the wane - found only on Eastern European servers in the main and in very random, scattered (and transitory) occurances elsewhere. The UK, btw, hosts much less than 1% of all CP online - free or otherwise.

    This f*ckwit politician - NuLabour, of course - really should do his research instead of spouting these tabloid-baiting headline grabbers. If this government has even one good eye it'll tell him to go take a hike. The days of banning and censoring everything have hopefully disappeared with the passing of Comrade Brown and his Politburo - and the days of shouting 'think of the children!' to get instant (bad) law should not be far behind.

    1. Nigel 11

      Don't be so sure it's a myth

      Don't be so sure. I'm quite certain that wherever there is a demand for something and profit to be made, someone will supply it. Obviously, purveyors of CP won't advertise openly. They will be out there at the (hopefully far) fringes of the black economy, just as we know there is a market in illegal drugs, women forced into prostitution, slaves, babies (illegal "adoption"), even human organs.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Exactly what I was thinking. I'm completely certain that in the time I've had net access if this kind of stuff or the other favourite - commercial snuff porn actually existed I'd at least have had 1 spam email or 1 annoying redirect to it (back in the days of ie5 ya know when I was a little n00b). Yet have I? Not a single one.

      This guy needs to stop reading Labour's own propaganda and actually check for himself before opening his stupid mouth.

  7. Tzael

    Not all prepaid cards are the same

    Prepaid credit cards are also ideal methods of ensuring you don't get ripped off when buying goods online. Top up the card with the amount required for the purchase you wish to make, complete the purchase of the goods, and leave the card empty when not required. This prepaid card requires submission of valid personal details to be obtained, and of course the only easy way to transfer funds to it is directly from your own bank account, I've not come across top-up kiosks or anything like that but I guess they might exist in the larger cities.

    Now the type of prepaid card I'm familiar with is obviously different to these anonymous cards sold at service stations. So the real issue is tackling the sale of anonymous credit cards. Also makes me wonder how many underage kids are abusing these things to obtain goods they're not entitled to? Win-win if we kill off anonymous credit cards I reckon.

  8. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I Wonder....

    "Labour MP Geraint Davies said the cards were routinely used by paedophiles to hide their identities as he proposed a bill on Wednesday to force credit card companies to act."

    I wonder if the Honourable Gentleman has any evidence to support this supposition. I also wonder if the Hon Gent has any ties to any businesses who stand to make a profit by the removal of such pre-paid cards from the market, such as the providers of non-pre-paid cards?

    Just wondering. Out loud. As it were...

    For some reason, I seem to have developed the nervous habit of never taking anything a politician says at face value any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      thats funny....

      ...I have developed the nervous habit of never taking anything an Englishman says at face value any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        What do you mean?

        What do you mean 'any more'?

        Anonymous troll from Ireland

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If it is routine, they can they can just follow the little trail of breadcrumbs back to the ip addresses used? Unless we have to now be so scared that they are all IT experts too who can use anoymous proxies (which of course can still be required to reveal logs)

      I don't buy it. I bet it is a tiny, tiny minority of the people who use the cards and once again the dregs of the NuLabia bandwagon is trying to disrupt the majority on the basis that a tiny, tiny minority of people may be doing a bad thing.

      Newflash, a tiny, tiny minority of people will ALWAYS do a bad thing. Live with it. Try and minimise it by all means but, really, don't ruin everything good because of a tiny minority, whether it's terrorists or fiddlers.

  9. Jimmy Floyd

    Remember swirly-face guy

    Photoshop was used to hide paedophiles too. So therefore...

    Technical knowledge icon, 'cos MPs have none.

  10. Alan Esworthy
    Big Brother

    Smoke screen

    The MP may be so stupid as to believe what he's saying, I suppose, but I am quite sure that the actual reason for this proposed law is to increase govt's knowledge of and control over all private transactions. The govt wants you to act only in those ways that it finds non-threatening, and the govt is perfectly willing - happy, even - to threaten its people with fines, jail, and potentially violence for the uncowed if they engage in such activity.

    Do you understand now? It's not really about the children. (-;

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Free market...

    Suppose they do. It will immediately create a new market for untraceable cards that some lively entrepreneur could jump into (as the new LibCon government seems keen to encourage). Buy them at £100, sell them on for £120 (or whatever the market decides the clearing price for an 'anonymous' card is). All perfectly legal, unless reselling a card is also made illegal in the legislation. Just remember to declare your business earnings on your tax return. So in a nutshell, the legislation will do nothing, except possibly placate the Daily Mail and the think of the children brigade, and make money for people (plus eBay's cut).

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Typical NuLabour Nonsense

    probably on the back of heresay with no evidence whatsoever, in addition, with more and more and more legislation, rules, bigbrother etc etc than ever before, if the number of people doing this is increasing perhaps the powers that be need to think of an alternative and more sensible approach?

    1. Dave Gregory


      Didn't we change government a few months back? You may have slept through that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Typical NuLabour Nonsense???

      Did you type that out of habit?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Pete65&Dave Gregory

        "Labour MP Geraint Davies said the cards were routinely used by paedophiles to hide their identities as he proposed a bill on Wednesday to force credit card companies to act"

        Now if it were ever to become law it would need some support from both sides of the house but as all sense goes out of the window when paedophiles are mentioned that wouldn't be too hard. It's still a new labour pushed idea.

  13. dave 81

    A British disease

    Yet again it looks like the Majority will have to suffer for the (so far unproven) actions of a very very small minority.

    Yes, paedophilia is and disgusting, but why does the establishment believe everyone is a paedophile until they register and are verified as "not a paedophile". Outlaw the actions of the minority, NOT THE MAJORITY.

    RIP "innocent until proven guilty"

  14. Tim Brown 1


    If the MP had highlighted the fact that these pre-paid cards are targeted at the financially vulnerable who often cannot obtain a conventional credit or debit card and carry disproportionally high-fees, he might have had more of a case.

  15. A B 3

    Cameras in every home

    He would be one of the ones that would like to put cameras in every home to prevent child abuse. Why don't they just trace the IP address of the person visiting the site?

    Be pro technology and think up new ways to track them as opposed to proposing bans. Heck why doesn't he just ban the internet, that will do the trick as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Why should they be tracked?

      I certainly do not want everything that I purchase being tracked, logged and potentially used against me in either a future marketing campaign or used to blackmail me if I buy something slightly questionable (but legal).

      This is why I usually pay for things in cash, obviously on-line I cannot do that, so pre-paid cards are ideal.

  16. uncredited

    Pre-paid Credit Card?

    Doesn't anyone see the fail there?

  17. Bracknellexile

    Next logical step....

    If anonymous transactions are such a bad thing, they'd better look at banning that awful cash stuff too - for the sake of the children of course.

  18. Christoph

    Hasn't he noticed yet that they lost?

    NuLab are still trying the garbage that lost them the election.

    Here's a way for citizens of this country do conduct their personal business without the government being able to spy on everything they do and record all the details in massive databases. It Must Be Stopped!!!

    What shall we use? Oh, no problem, the old paedophile trick we've been using for years still has some life in it.

    "Child Pornography!!! Think Of The Children!!! Something Must Be Done!!!"

    There, that should do it. Still, it's a bit difficult to actually pass laws banning these cards.

    Ah, I know, we'll use another old trick - force the private companies to act as unofficial, unpaid police for us. They can do things we're not allowed to do, they'll be forced to heavily over-react in case there's a tiny slip and we yell "Paedophiles!" at them, and when there's complaints we can look perfectly innocent and claim it's not our fault that they did the things they did, and that the arm we're twisting behind their back is nothing at all to do with it.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    These fulfill a useful niche as not all have silly charges and therefore allow to budget with money they have rather than the money someone will lend. Give them the security on line as with a normal credit card unlike paying with your cash card. Also handy tip here for electron cards to avoid CC charges on flights

  20. kain preacher

    The real reason

    Government are scared of anonymous movements of money. When I first signed up for pay pal(before ebay got them) all I needed was an e-mail address. the US government had a shit fit . Went on about how this would be used to fund drug dealers and terrorist . Now the US government regulators them SS# .

  21. Peter 39

    track and trace

    It leads back to an oft-argued issue between the U.S. and others - whether all electronic payments should be traceable. The U.S. wants them to be, and E.U. seems to wish otherwise.

    I don't have an answer but this is the nub of the question. All the stuff about CP is merely window-dressing. Nothing more.

    The U.S. is making cash harder to use. The largest note ("bill") is $100 and many stores will not accept ones larger than $20.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credit or Debit?

    A 'credit' card involves credit ie, owing the issuing bank money. A prepaid card is a 'Debit' card.

    No wonder our banking system in in such a mess when ministers don't appear to know the difference. I'd be more worried about the govts inability to understand basic finance over the worry of what people 'may' be doing with these cards!

    1. Cantab

      My thought exactly!

      If you're taking money out of a pot you are being debited the bank isn't extending you a line of credit!

      And we wonder why this country has a problem with consumer debt when people (including politicians) can't even make such a simple distinction!

      1. Laurence Blunt

        I am not certain but...

        I will admit I have never used one of these, as I just have a couple of cards, one in my wallet, and one with a relatively low credit limit which never leaves the house and is only ever used online.

        I believe some of these cards may be termed "credit cards" even though no debt is permitted as credit cards come under different legislation.

        Debit cards are usually linked to a bank account (current or savings), but there should be not charges made to the holder or retailer when using them to buy things. The retailer only has to pay the equivalent of rental on the equipment.

        Credit cards provide much more protection than Debit cards, as the issuer imposes charges on the retailer, which is why you sometimes get charged more for using them.

        Those retailer charges is the main reason why AmericanExpress is not accepted in most UK retailers as AmEx charge ~5%, compared with the more typically charge ~3% of the others.

  23. mark l 2 Silver badge

    wont someone think of the children

    Surely rather than trying to band anonymous prepaid cards which they should just go after the people selling the images, or perhaps that would involve too much police work or as i expect more likely there really isn't any commericial child pron anymore since VISA and mastercard cracked down on rouge banks and merchant accounts holders a few years ago after operation ore and similar investigations. And now kiddy pron is 'traded' for free on underground site on tor or encypted files emailed between pedos

    If they do require you show iD to prove who you are, who is going to entrust a shop keeper or petrol station assistant with personal information such as Name, DOB, passport number etc, when this is a gold mine of information for doing some nice identity fraud.

    If they do ban anoymous credit cards then whats to stop them using other anoymous money service like western union, moneygram or even just cash

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't go far enough!

    Never mind anonymous credit cards - there is clear evidence that some disgusting paedo scum have been paying prostitutes with a form of virtually untraceable anonymous paper promissory notes, available in various denominations of £5,£10, £20, £50 and so on - lets see the person responsible for dishing out these dodgy documents behind bars at once - never mind if he calls himself the Governor of the Bank of England - no-one's above the law. (Well, okay, actually bankers ARE above the law, otherwise given what they were responsible for, they'd all be gently swinging from Tyburn Tree providing a feast for the crows)

  25. LordBrian

    I hate prepaid cards - or the lazy banks...

    At least 2/3 times a month we have to phone the bank to cancel direct debits that they never check. Having traced the numbers they all go back to a Natwest bank up north that supplies topup facilities for prepaid cards. So send in your dodgy DD and if it gets through the money goes straight onto your prepaid card, off you go.

  26. JaitcH

    Another 'out to lunch' technophile MP

    The guy hasn't a clue. There are so many methods of paying money anonymously, still, both from within the UK and elsewhere.

    The US thinks it has international money transmission under control, which is illusional; sure they have made it a pain but I can personally attest that big money is travelling worldwide, and I'm not discussing crime-related (drugs, etc).

    Besides, requiring ID is pointless for people using payments systems can get false ID with ease. Just another Labour MP burdening the books with dumb laws.

  27. Graham Marsden

    Have these people not HEARD of Operation Ore?

    You know, the one where a lot of innocent people were charged by Jim Gamble and co with downloading CP because they had been the victims of *CREDIT CARD THEFT*??

    Yes, that's right their card details had been *stolen*, just like many other people's card details are stolen every year.

    So what's to stop someone *stealing* someone's pre-paid credit card and using that to download CP?

    Oh, that's right, *nothing*.


  28. Tom 38

    Typical reg commentard nonsense

    Explain why being able to identify the owner of a credit card is such a heinous invasion of your privacy. 'bigbrother' my arse.

    1. A J Stiles

      Why it's a big deal

      Do you seal the envelope when you send a letter? Do you have curtains at your windows? A lock on your bathroom door?

      The point is, if I am engaged in a financial transaction, that is nobody else's business save mine and the other party's. And that means nobody else needs to know. And that means they can keep their beaks out and get on with the stuff they're actually supposed to be doing.

      Future generations will no doubt be able to pinpoint the moment when the balance tipped, and you became more likely to become a victim of paedophile hysteria than a victim of paedophilia.

    2. Alan Esworthy
      Thumb Down


      It is simply none of your or anybody else's fucking business.

      If you think it is, post your name and address. I'd like to drop

      by every few weeks and read your mail - bank statements

      in particular.

    3. Ian 62

      When they came for, I said nothing

      >Explain why being able to identify the owner of a credit card is such a heinous invasion of your >privacy. 'bigbrother' my arse

      Because the day that go to amazon to buy:

      1 x Nightvision goggles

      1 x Photography for dummies

      1 x London A-Z

      1 x Chemistry for beginners

      1 x SAS Survival Handbook

      1 x Selfdefence for beginners

      I dont want my name to ping up on a list at GCHQ!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Typical Idiot non sense

      It has little to do with being able to identify the owner of the prepaid, but instead the withdrawal of an opportunity for people that have no access to credit or debit cards to be able to use the wide array of services that demand cards.

      Also are the cards really anonymous as they need to be topped up by someone, somewhere, which will leave a paper trail.

      No, I declare you incapable of thought.

    5. Steve Roper

      Is it really?

      Then I suppose you'll have no problem telling us your REAL name (It's not Tom 38), your current address, your phone number, your date of birth, the names and dates of birth of any children you might have, where you work, how much you earn, and how much you have in your bank account. Because if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right?

      Grenade instead of fire because mere flames don't rid the world of these fucking morons fast enough.

  29. Qwixel

    Why is it?

    Why is it that we keep hearing about all these sites that charge for access to kiddie porn, and all about the people who pay for it and how they have to be stopped one by one to stamp it out, but we never seem to hear about how these site operators continue to be able PROCESS credit card information in the first bloody place?

    I gotta think that if you start with the website operators, chances are there will be nothing to sell access to in the first place.

    Plus, who cares if the card is fake? The record companies seem to be able to find downloaders for civil cases - but the police can't even be bothered to read a freaking web server log just because they might have a pre-paid card without info?

    Unless it is fixed right, all killing prepaid cards will do is increase the number of stolen cards being used instead. That could easily mean YOUR card gets scooped and used for this. Or, more important to the lawmakers - THEIR cards too.

  30. Pop

    So when

    are we going to get round to holding the electric companies responsible for every "crime" that's committed using a computer seeing as they power them all ?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    shocking news guys

    100% of peadophiles have been known to use houses and other roofed buildings to live in. It keeps the rain out while they do their awful awful deeds. I say we ban houses. It's the only way to be sure.

    And since using carbon (not carbon! anything but that) is taboo now anyway, Labour voters would eat that shit up. No houses means no light bulbs making their precious precious glaciers get all sad and melty.

    It would even mean that druggies have no place to hide and take their illeglol drugs. We certainly can't let anyone take drugs in case some stupid teenager mixes them with contraindicated substances and dies. That would be such a loss.

  32. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    I'd rather hoped it would be a bill in the hope of getting the great pre-paid card rip-off curtailed rather than nonsense like this.

    These cards can be a life-line for people who have hit a bad patch, have recovered, but their banks treat them like lepers and have withdrawn all lines of credit -- quite ironic really when the very same people are bailing them out to the tune of billions.

    Then on top of, that the card providers take advantage of that plight by charging for the card in the first place, charging transaction fees, charge for topping-up the card and also charging for lack of use! If anyone is exploiting anyone here it's the card providers.

    It's actually not as easy to get hold of such a card as it seems, but it's very easy to use the paedophile or terrorist argument against almost anything.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    And Now For Something Completely Different

    Quite a promising candidate for Upper Class Twit of the Year award.

    Any more from the same party?

  34. Winkypop Silver badge

    The Govt just wants to be your Mum...

    ...keeping an eye on everything you do and how you spend your money...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Title longer than one-word response:


  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I know muslims who use these 'cos their religion isn't keen on the concept of credit and interest (hence no credit cards). So doing this could also target those pesky terrorist chappies! Result.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not only pre-paid credit cards.

    I have strong reason to believe that they also use air to breathe and water to drink. These two items should also be banned immediately. That will stop them.

  38. OffBeatMammal

    what, no mention of the War on Terror (tm)

    my, how times of changes when the WoT isn't appended to every freedom robbing move

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Don't worry they said, if you don't have a visa card, the only card we'll accept at the Olympics, you can just get a pre-paid visa card, well as long as that muppet doesn't get his way that is.

    Won't somebody think of the children who want to buy some merchandise at one of the stalls who only accept visa cards, and cash, but who wants to carry enough cash to buy a day's worth of tat from the sure to be horrendously overpriced tat-stalls at the olympics.

    Can we pass a law against politicians please?

    1. Gaz Jay
      Thumb Up


      Ironically, the picture on said pre-paid Visa card and all merchendise will have that 2012 "lisa simpson" logo on it. So in a way, the user will be paying for child porn!

  40. elderlybloke

    We will need to be

    supervised while having a pee , to ensure that we don't shake it more than three times.

    Think of the children.

  41. doveman

    False sense of security?

    I'm not sure I would use one of these to buy suspicious/embarassing (but legal) items as I imagine the retailers pass the shipping address on to the card company as a matter of course, so your purchases are logged and stored for the authorities to peruse, just the same as they would be with a normal card.

    Grenade, 'cos it's the only way to stop 'em tracking you.

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