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25% jump in cross border fraud on UK debit cards

The percentage of fraudulent transactions occurring outside the UK in 2014 on UK debit cards rose 25% in a massive sample of cards studied by analytic software firm FICO.

Cross border fraud transactions accounted for nearly a third (31%) of all fraudulent transactions on 52 million active UK debit cards studied, up from 23% in 2013. cross border transactions overall nearly doubled between the 2013 sample and 2014 sample.

“Criminals are now opting for card-not-present and cross border fraud,” said Martin

A chart showing that US top country for cross border fraud

US top country for cross border fraud

Warwick, FICO’s fraud chief in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “The alarming rise in cross border fraud demands new technology, such as proximity location services that can identify whether the customer’s mobile is in the same place where the transaction is occurring. The UK reduced cross border card fraud from £230 million in 2008 down to £80 million in 2011. But cross border fraud has nearly doubled since then, and it’s time to get it back under control.”


  • 25% rise seen in cross border fraud transactions on UK debit cards from 2013 to 2014
  • 47% of fraudulent cross border transactions on UK debit cards occurred in US in 2014
  • 12% of UK debit card fraud was from cash machines
  • 67% of UK debit card fraud was card-not-present

As the US experiences an unprecedented spike in fraudulent ATM cash-outs, it is reported that the US accounted for 47% of the fraudulent cross border transactions seen on UK debit cards in 2014 in its sample. While it ranked first for the number of fraudulent cross border transactions on UK cards, the US ranked only third for the number of total cross border transactions.

“Lack of EMV technology in the US makes it a target for criminals,” said Warwick. “Criminal organizations are taking the details of compromised UK-issued debit cards and using those fraudulently in the US. This can affect anyone with a UK card that has been compromised, not just those who travel to the US.

“We are seeing a lot of fraud in the US as criminals try to exploit the lack of EMV protection before it is implemented in the US, and before the liability shift at the point of sale takes effect later this year. Having EMV will make the mag stripe data less appealing to criminals.”

The cards in the sample represented 5.6 billion total transactions worth £306 billion, a 5% increase in spending compared to 2013. Total fraud losses for the cards in the sample decreased 7%, to £156 million.

While 24% of debit card transactions occurred at cash machines, just 12% of fraudulent transactions came from cash machines. Still, cash machines topped the list of merchant categories for fraudulent debit card use, followed by financial institutions at 12%.

Fraudulent transactions where the card was not present (CNP) accounted for 68% of all fraudulent debit card transactions, and 84% of cross border fraud transactions. With respect to fraud losses, CNP accounted for 63% of total fraud losses and 57% of cross border fraud losses. CNP fraud transactions decreased by 3% but fraud losses remained flat at £98 million between the two periods.

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