Software manufacturers, web designers and internet service providers face billions of pounds worth of claims against them because of fraud on the web, a leading law firm claimed this week.

The warning comes from London-based Philippsohn Crawfords Berwald after Australia's largest retailer, Harvey Norman, had to stop accepting online credit card payments because of a 25% fraud ratio.

PCB senior partner Steven Philippsohn said: “This move highlights the mounting concerns about credit card fraud throughout the global economy. Lots of UK firms may be forced to cease offering online card payment facilities in order to eliminate fraud and allay consumer security fears.”

Philippsohn claims the developments could also open the floodgates for billions of pounds worth of claims because software and technology companies have been negligent .

He said: “If losses have been suffered as a result of inadequate security, businesses may well be able to recover losses from those responsible for the lack of security.”

The PCB partner believes security work being carried out by major credit card providers will also cut down fraud.

MasterCard and Visa are both introducing new checking procedures to validate customers are genuine.

Last year, research group APACS found there was £190m worth of credit card fraud.

Criminals use credit card data stolen from around Europe to buy bogus goods from bogus retailers through which the money reaches the fraudster.