Card fraud losses on the rise across Europe

card fraud

A joint study by predictive analytics firm FICO and Euromonitor International, of card fraud incidents in 19 European countries during 2015, finds that 10 of them recorded increases.

The UK recorded Europe’s largest annual jump in card fraud losses last year, with an 18% increase mostly from online transactions and “reflecting the growth in this channel, the ease of accessibility to funds and lower risk for criminals, and the theft of personal data through cybercrime.” Greece, Denmark, France and Russia posted the highest rises after the UK.

FICO noted that the rise in UK card fraud equates to an additional £88.5m lost, with about 75% (£66.7m) of the increase from card not present (CNP) fraud, and £42.4m of CNP fraud from electronic commerce (e-commerce). The UK contributed about 43% of the total card fraud losses across the 19 European countries studied.

FICO fraud consultant Martin Warwick said that the increased rate of personal data compromise through data breaches was one likely cause, but that customer expectations for a seamless purchasing experience also had an influence.

“We cardholders are very demanding and if we don’t get what we want then we let people know in the form of reviews and feedback, not to mention switching cards. Banks want to avoid intervening unnecessarily when customers are shopping on the internet. E-commerce spending in the UK has nearly quadrupled since 2007, so you see why this is such a target for criminals.”

Card fraud losses overall across the 19 countries studied were 10% higher than in 2014, with CNP fraud the dominant fraud type.

“This isn’t surprising, as Europe pushed criminals towards CNP with the rollout and success of chip & PIN at point-of-sale [POS],” said Warwick. “The digital revolution also fuelled this migration, creating an online funds kitty that is just too tempting for criminals.”

Warwick added that the financial services industry will either have to find a way to make data useless to criminals, or make more use of fraud detection analysis. “FICO has introduced innovative analytics to try and make card fraud detection as painless as possible for the customer and still detect more fraud,” he said. “These include merchant profiling, adaptive analytics, behaviour-sorted lists and collaborative profiling.”

As a share of total card payments for the researched markets in Europe, total value lost to fraud declined from .08% to .06% from 2010 to 2015 reflecting innovation in card payment security. However, the method of value lost to fraud is shifting to target the transition to online retailing.

“The UK, Denmark and France were among the markets where the value lost to fraud as a share of total card payment value did not decrease, and will benefit the most from additional security measures for card payments, and additional investments from merchants and issuers,” said Kendrick Sands, senior analyst – consumer finance at Euromonitor.

“The further projected increase in online payments over the forecast period suggests additional security measures will be required throughout Europe. While the decline in counterfeit cards has been significant from uniform Europay, MasterCard and Visa [EMV] adoption, there has yet to be a similar effort to secure the online space. If greater security measures are not adopted to combat card not present fraud, the broader advance of card payments over paper alternatives could be negatively impacted.

“Following the Russian Federation’s more than 500% increase in total card payment value came a 130% increase in total value lost to fraud from 2010 to 2015,” Sands added. “For a market that has made the transition of consumer payments from paper to card and electronic alternatives a priority in recent years, increasing the security of transactions must remain a priority to increase consumer confidence in payments.”

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