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UK is card fraud capital of Europe

UK is card fraud capital of Europe

The UK has been crowned the card fraud capital of Europe, with more victims and higher losses experienced than any of its continental peers.

The data comes from analysis of the European Central Bank's Statistical Data Warehouse, sourced from all reporting card payment scheme operators for 2019.

The figures, collated by the Social market Foundation, show the UK way out in front of its European neighbours in number of victims (134 for every thousand inhabitants) and losses (£8,833.20 per one thousand people).

The value of fraud is more than £2000 higher in the UK than the second ranked country, France, and contrasts sharply with Spain, Germany and Italy by a far greater order of magnitude.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, between April 2021 and March 2022 there were 2.3 million “bank and card frauds”, comprising 51% of the total recorded frauds committed against residents during the period.

The SMF has called on the Government to adopt a “comprehensive whole-systems” approach to address fraud, starting with recruiting more specialist staff that are trained to handle complex crime.

Richard Hyde, SMF Senior Researcher, says: “Britain’s shocking record on card fraud compared to major European economies is yet another reminder of how UK law enforcement has failed to keep up with the epidemic. Policymakers need to reflect further on why we’re at this stage.

“Solving the crisis will take more than just increased police staff. Whilst specialist staff will certainly play a crucial role, the entire fraud law enforcement landscape needs an overhaul - with reforms that will transform the system and enact lasting change.

“There is no time to delay - fraud and economic crime is evolving to be more difficult to investigate and solve - so policymakers must start to make comprehensive system changes now.”

Comments: (3)

Melvin Haskins
Melvin Haskins - Haston International Limited - 04 August, 2022, 10:574 likes 4 likes

This looks like a classic 'How to lie with statistics'. What is needed is a true comparison of card usage. Do people in the UK use their cards more often and for larger sums than their European counterparts? Cash is certainly king in a number of European countries. Without a proper comparison this study should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Graham Smith
Graham Smith - Volopa Financial Services (Scotland) Limited - Mayfair, London. 04 August, 2022, 19:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Where’s the detail? Which channels (I suspect CNP mainly), cardholder types, payment types, merchant types, specific payment solutions (mobile), goods delivery channels? The move towards faster payments; frictionless payments; one-click payments; contactless payments all potentially provide greater opportunity for fraud to occur, but are they part of the cause? Is the approach to cardholder use in today’s real world causing a problem, specifically relating to the one account/one card approach which forces employees to share their card credentials and authentication channel with colleagues to enable simpler business control and reporting, totally against scheme/issuer T&C, but it happens – for convenience? The same applies to consumer use, particularly when supporting the elderly or less capable. Not everyone knows or want to know they must be careful (secure) with their card credentials. I am aware there are ways round this, PoA and specific Issuer cards designed for the purpose for example, however, in this world of convenience, what’s the path of least resistance?

Could it be related to the gullible British who make overseas payments by sending card details by email or reading them out over the phone, only later to be abused by a sharp merchant employee realising Christmas has come early – surprisingly, not every part of the global payment eco-system complies with PCI DSS. In our world of increasing demands for convenience we have created many opportunities for people looking to commit fraud, to do so. In the current economic climate I suspect the number of people turning to exploit these opportunities will only increase.

Is the European Central Bank's Statistical Data Warehouse report available for review, I’d be keen to see the detail although it’s a shame it’s 3 years old? Has anything changed in the UK since 2019?

The assumption that “Solving the crisis will take more than just increased police staff” is simply that, an assumption. Without the detail from the report such an increase could be a complete waste of police time.

I welcome the call on the government for a “comprehensive whole-systems” approach, but it strikes me some of the reasons for fraud could, conveniently, be staring us all in the face.


Bill Trueman
Bill Trueman - Riskskill.com - London 09 August, 2022, 09:05Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

What a poor piece of reporting, as Melvin says above. THis does not reflect any usage volumes. Traditionally, card fraud is measured by all, and certainly by the card schemes: a) Fraud basis points as a % turnover on cards and b) Fraud per card.  Both of these can be a little distorted by the number of cards in issue (that is very different) and of course by usage makes it much more revealing. 

Then as GRaham points ou: where is the fraud. i.e. is it OTC or CNP/internet? So where is this perceived problem?  i.e. from this artcle we simply cannot deduce anything or take any actions. A bland government action suggestion is very very poor.

Get a grip please and think a little about the real issues, real questions and actions. In this case, the article could have been a great exposé of the shallow thinking of the EU research; OR a broader critique of the EU adoption of card scheme cards, OR the banks for say, late adoption of 3DS technologies in 2019.

Lastly, what has happened since 2019? The market has changed massively since this time!