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Fraudsters Target Credit, Debit and Prepaid Cards to Tune of $11 Billion

[Monday, September 9th, 2013]

In 2012, credit card issuers, banks, merchants and prepaid card issuers lost more than $11 billion to fraud—a 14.6% jump over the year before. Card issuers bore the brunt of the losses, at 63%, while merchants took 37% of total losses.

Fraud losses have gone up over the past two years, after eight years of holding steady—but are still close to the lowest point they have ever been. The total amount of payments made via credit, debit and prepaid general purpose cards in 2012 was $12.6 trillion. That represents an 11% increase over 2011.

Payment industry newsletter The Nilson Report tallied up the fraud losses and recommended EMV technology (chip cards) as the first line of defense against thieves who use counterfeit cards to perpetrate thefts.

Counterfeit card use happens mostly at point-of-sale, and card issuers absorb the loss, not merchants. Once the credit, debit or prepaid card issuer authorizes the merchant to accept payment, they become responsible for the debt.

Fraudulent online, call center and mail order transactions, known as CNP (card not present) transactions, cause merchants to lose money. Card issuers can chargeback the phony payment in these cases.

The adoption of EMV technology would guard against fraudulent transactions, according to the report. EMV technology is common in Europe and other countries around the world, but the United States has been slow to adapt, mainly sticking with magnetic stripe cards, which are less secure. And though the U. S. generated only 23% of the total worldwide card transaction volume, it accounted for 47% of global fraud losses.

Counterfeit card fraud is on the decline in every country except the U. S., where it continues to increase steadily each year. Last year U.S. counterfeit losses made up over 26% of total global losses. Fraud loss due to CNP transactions is high in the U.S. as well, due to the fact that more online sales originate here than anywhere else in the world.

Besides adopting EMV technology, another way to fight fraud is by implementing alerts, such as text messages sent to customers’ mobile phones that require them to approve transactions before payments are authorized.

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People Feel Better About Their Financial Lives Than Their Love Lives, Says Survey
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