Visa International said a technology that detects alteration of the magnetic stripes on credit cards has significantly slowed the growth of losses from that nettlesome new type of counterfeiting.

Electronic counterfeiting -- the entry of valid account numbers on the magnetic stripes of stolen or duplicated cards -- cost Visa's member institutions $39 million last year, the card association said. That was up by $11 million, or 39%, from 1990's level, but the 1990 figure was 460% higher than 1989's $5 million.

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