France Overtakes UK as Europe’s Top Card Fraud Victim


FICO has published an updated map of card fraud in Europe that showed most countries experienced a rise in fraud in 2012. For the first time in years, the UK did not have the highest card fraud losses in Europe — France took its place, with 29% of the region’s losses, compared to the UK’s 27%.

“France was the founder of the chip and PIN strategy for Europe, but the UK has taken a particularly tough stance against fraud in recent years, using the latest advanced fraud technology,” said Martin Warwick, FICO’s fraud chief for Europe. “Despite a rise of 14% last year, UK card fraud losses were still 36% lower in 2012 than at their peak in 2008. By contrast, France’s overall fraud losses grew 65% between 2007 and 2012, which translated to an additional €174 million of card fraud losses over the period. France also has the highest lost-and-stolen card fraud level of all the countries in Europe.”

According to data supplied by Euromonitor International, a provider of global strategic market intelligence, European card fraud losses were 6% higher than in 2011. France, Russia and the UK made up more than 80% of this increase, and France alone generated nearly half of the total increase in value. Russia’s fraud loss has grown the fastest however, with 2012 totals reaching three times the level of those reported in 2010.European Fraud Levels

“Any successful reduction in fraud, like that driven by Chip & PIN, typically results in criminals changing their modus operandi to find a different weak spot, and fraud levels starting to climb again,” said Warwick. “Fraud is like a balloon — if you squeeze it out of one scheme, or one country, it bulges somewhere else.

“In addition, clamping down on fraud can help banks minimize losses but can also result in a more frustrating customer experience, as shoppers’ cards may be blocked unnecessarily. When the negative impact on customers outweighs the benefits of tighter fraud prevention methods, banks relax their controls, inevitably leading to another rise in fraud. This means fraud losses tend to follow a saw-tooth pattern, with alternating peaks and troughs. Europe’s last peak was in 2008, and after a drop in 2009, levels have been steadily climbing since.”

FICO’s European Fraud Map shows card fraud amounts from 2006-2012 for 21 countries, across five categories, including counterfeit fraud, card stolen and ID theft. Country-specific information shows how fraud has evolved, and indicates new risks in areas such as ID theft, counterfeit cards and online fraud. Regional trends include the increase in card-not-present (CNP) fraud online. The map can be accessed at

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