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European card fraud for 19 countries hits record €1.8 billion in 2016

FICO has released its annual interactive map of European card fraud, which shows that card fraud losses for 19 European countries hit approximately €1.8 billion, a new high.

The UK saw the highest losses at £618 million, a 9% rise over 2015, topping the previous peak in card fraud, set in 2008 after the introduction of chip and PIN.

E-commerce Growth Drives Rise in UK Card Fraud

E-commerce or digital fraud now accounts for 50% of the UK Card Fraud Losses, at £309 million. This is a scary number and shows where the criminals think the best line of attack is. It’s an easier target in part because of the rise in e-commerce transactions generally.

  • UK genuine spending in e-commerce was £41 billion in 2008, when the last peak in UK card fraud occurred. It reached £210 billion in 2015 and £248 billion in 2016, according to figures from Financial Fraud Action UK.
  • CNP fraud was £328 million in 2008 but had been pushed down to £220 million by 2011. However, since then it has continued to rise and has now reached £432 million, of which e-commerce represents £309 million.
  • To get a complete view on the amazing growth in fraud in CNP you can go back to 1998, when the UK reported just £13.6 million which was exactly 10% of the total fraud losses at that time.

Card not present (CNP) fraud has gone from 50% of gross fraud losses in 2008 to 70% in 2016. Ten countries saw an increase in fraud losses, while eight saw a decrease. The map is based on data from Euromonitor International, with additional information from the UK Cards Association.

“The growth in online spending and CNP fraud brings new challenges for banks and retailers, as criminals thwarted by chip & PIN have moved to a less risky channel,” comments Martin Warwick, senior consultant for fraud at FICO.

“Hiding amongst the growth in online purchases is great from a criminal point of view, but finding and stopping fraudulent transactions just gets tougher. Spotting the ‘needle in a haystack’ requires new behavioural analytics and artificial intelligence, combined with enhanced information from outside the traditional data contained within a purchase.”

In 2015 the UK’s card fraud rise was the highest in Europe, but in 2016 two countries saw higher rises — Poland (+10%) and Sweden (+18%). The UK’s rise from 2015 to 2016 was just half of that from 2014 to 2015.

France had the highest basis points at 8.9 (ratio of fraud losses to sales) among the 19 European countries, compared to 7 basis points for the UK. However, French card spending is half that in UK, making UK losses much greater. Together, the UK and France account for 73% of the total loses among the 19 countries in 2016, followed by Germany, Spain, Russia, Italy and Sweden.

Chip & PIN Protection Pushes Criminals to ID Fraud and Stolen Cards

Fighting Back with AI

“It’s no longer just about identifying patterns that are unusual for the customer — we’re also looking at anomalies at the mobile device, IP address and merchant level,” says Scott Zoldi, FICO chief analytics officer. “All of these have ‘behaviors’ just as individuals do, and we’re using our 25 years of experience in artificial intelligence to identify those.”

Mobile analytics is an important area here, says Zoldi, who developed or co-developed half of the company’s 70 patents in artificial intelligence and machine learning. “FICO has developed archetype analytics that taps into the rich source of mobile context such as advanced geolocation, allowing us to use that information in FICO Falcon Fraud manager to make real-time decisions during a transaction. These analytics draw on our patented work with customer behavior archetypes.”

Banks and card issuers are also beginning to step up their use of real-timecustomer communication. “Contacting consumers early using automated two-way SMS is a key solution to making sure the transactions are valid,” Warwick continues. “If this is fully automated and tied into the fraud solution — then cases can be closed without human intervention and consumers can be allowed to continue to spend when and where they want.”


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