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UK Card Fraud Losses Now Accounts for Half of Europe

UK card fraud now accounts for half of all losses across Europe, driven by data breaches and online scams, according to new findings from FICO.

The predictive analytics firm’s newly launched interactive European Fraud Map reveals that UK card fraud losses hit a record £671 million in 2018, up 19% from the previous year.

The figure amounts to almost half the total €1.6 billion (£1.4bn) recorded across the 19 countries included in the map: in Europe plus Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.

The vast majority of the UK’s losses (£506.4m) came from card-not-present (CNP) channels, which are dominated these days by online fraud.

FICO said that the figures can be explained in part by a surge in data breaches, which has flooded underground forums with the identity data needed to carry out CNP scams. Another factor is changes in reporting processes which means more incidents are being recorded.

“The sheer volume of attempted fraud has meant that, although more fraud is being prevented now than ever before, and that it’s being caught earlier in the attack cycle, the total value lost is still on the rise,” said Matt Cox, the firm's vice president for fraud management solutions in Europe.

"Personal information lost in high-profile data breaches means it’s easier than ever for criminals to impersonate individuals and businesses, so we all need to be more vigilant — personally, and as an industry. We’re seeing the continued growth and diversification of social engineering fraud, which uses techniques like vishing, phishing and whaling.”

The UK’s Faster Payments and Europe’s SEPA Instant Credit Transfer initiatives have made speedy seamless payments a reality across the continent — but this is also helping scammers to get away with and launder fraudulently obtained funds before businesses can stop them.

UK police have been forced to go into schools this year warning about the dangers posed by money mule recruiters, as the latter continue to flood social media in a bid to snare cash-strapped teens.

“The key to fighting online fraud lies in establishing practices to protect against data compromise,” said Cox. “Drawing on global networks of loss data and confirmed cases of fraud enables businesses to identify and prevent data breaches significantly earlier, reducing the customer losses and operational pressures that often result from these attacks.”

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