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  • 14 August 2020

Card fraud dominated by online, mail and phone channels in 2018

The Eurosystem, in its role as payments overseer, gathers data from card payment schemes operating in the euro area with a view to analysing trends and developments in card fraud. These data are reported broken down by Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) country. The sixth oversight report on card fraud focuses on 2018 data within the overall context of a five-year period from 2014 to 2018.

There were fraudulent transactions using cards issued within SEPA with a total value of €1.80 billion in 2018. An average of 3.7 cents was lost to fraud for every €100 worth of card transactions, compared with an average of 3.5 cents in 2017.

The report differentiates between two main types of card fraud: (i) fraud conducted with physical cards, such as cash withdrawals using counterfeit or stolen cards; and (ii) fraud conducted remotely for online and other payments using card details obtained by scams like phishing.

As in previous years, the majority of fraudulent card transactions in 2018 were conducted remotely, by mail, phone or online. They made up 79% of the total value of card fraud with cards issued in SEPA, while fraud committed at the point-of-sale (POS) and automated teller machines (ATMs) accounted for 15% and 6% respectively. Compared to 2017, fraudulent payments conducted remotely increased in 2018, whereas those that require the physical presence of a card at the POS or an ATM declined. This continues a trend that can be observed over the whole five-year period.

From a geographical perspective, cross-border transactions with cards issued in SEPA and acquired worldwide accounted for a bigger share of fraudulent transactions (64%) in 2018 than domestic transactions within SEPA (36%). Generally, higher fraud rates were experienced by countries with large card markets and broad card use for online purchases.

The overall level of fraudulent transactions and the newly emerging ways of committing card fraud highlight the importance of continuously monitoring fraud and implementing enhanced security measures. In line with its oversight policy, the Eurosystem will continue to analyse payment fraud and security developments for payment schemes and take action as needed.