Europe’s central bank reveals drop in Euro Zone card fraud

The latest figures from the European Central Bank  (ECB) show that card fraud is at its lowest level in the Euro Zone since it began reporting data, after a 12% drop in card-not-present theft.

In its findings for the full year 2021, the ECB reported a total of €1.53bn in card fraud, the lowest level in the year since 2016 when it first reported the data. During the period, a total of €5.4trn was spent using cards in the Single Euro Payments Area.

Since reporting began, the level of card fraud was highest in 2019 when €1.87bn from a total value of €5.16tn.

The vast majority (84%) of card fraud in 2021 was the result of card-not-present scams, but this was down 12% compared to the full year 2012, according to ECB figures.

Card-not-present fraud, where a criminal uses card details without the physical card, continues to increase alongside the growth of e-commerce. Criminals are using sophisticated methods to glean payment card details, including malware and phishing scams.

The ECB said the fall in card-not-present scams reduced after the introduction of strong customer authentication (SCA) as part of the EU’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

Under the SCA rules, certain online payments require two methods of authentication from the person making the payment, such as a password, biometric authentication or having a phone that can identify them.

The ECB said 63% of the total money stolen was in cros- border transactions: “As in previous reports, most of the card fraud in both 2020 and 2021 involved cross-border transactions. Although cross-border transactions only accounted for 11% of the total value of card payment transactions, they accounted for 63% of the total value of card fraud in 2021.”

The ECB said fraud data for 2022 is currently being collected.

In the UK, Authorised Push Payment fraud is a card-not-present scam causing huge losses. It occurs when criminals use fake websites and emails to trick consumers into authorising payments to them, meaning the transactions bypass the security systems banks have in place to prevent fraud because payment is already authorised.

This type of fraud caused losses of $789.4m to UK citizens in 2021, which could rise to $1.56bn by 2026, according to a report from payments software supplier ACI Worldwide and analytics firm GlobalData.


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