The UK is Europe’s card fraud capital – the most victims per 1,000 people and the highest losses, according to a think tank today.
Britons experience far more card fraud than people in any European country. UK losses from card fraud are also much higher.
This is revealed by the SMF analysis of data from the European Central Bank, as shown in the following charts.
Figure 1: Number of card frauds per 1,000 inhabitants in the main European countries
Source: European Central Bank
Figure 2: Cost of card fraud per 1000 people in major European countries
Source: European Central Bank
The SMF called on the government to adopt a ‘complete systems’ approach to tackling fraud – Britain’s dominant crime – starting with bringing in more specialist staff trained to handle complex crimes like fraud (and other types of economic crimes).
SMF Principal Investigator Richard Hyde said:
“Britain’s shocking record on card fraud compared to major European economies is yet another reminder of how UK law enforcement has failed to deal with the outbreak. Policy makers need to think more about why we are at this point.
“Solving the crisis will require more than just an increase in police numbers. While specialist staff will certainly play a crucial role, the entire fraud enforcement landscape needs an overhaul – with reforms that will transform the system and enact lasting change.
“There is no time to waste – fraud and economic crime are evolving to become more difficult to investigate and solve – so policy makers need to start making comprehensive changes to the system now.”
Annual figures shown in the graph below:
- Data on cards, inhabitants, card transactions and transactions per capita are taken from the ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW). ECB data on fraud and fraud per transaction was collected from all reporting operators of card payment schemes for 2019
- The data covers all three forms of card fraud: card not present (CNP) fraud, where your card number is used for a purchase; Point-of-sale fraud, where your stolen/cloned card is used to purchase something; and ATM fraud, where your stolen/copied card is used to withdraw cash. CNP fraud accounted for 84% of all card fraud in the UK, so the vast majority of card fraud in the UK is people whose card numbers are used without their knowledge/consent.
- The £ values for the fraud were given in 2019 euros in the original ECB data. We’ve converted them here to GBP using today’s exchange rates.
- For recent SMF work on fraud, please see https://www.smf.co.uk/commentary_podcasts/fraud-is-britains-dominant-crime/
Background on card fraud:
There are several different measures of the extent of card fraud, all producing slightly different data that are not directly comparable. But all sources suggest that card fraud accounts for around half of all fraud activity, and therefore the most common form of fraud.
The City of London Police (E&W’s main fraud force) said “check and card fraud” was the most frequently reported type of fraud (via Action Fraud) in 2020-2021, with 336,770 reports.
Card fraud accounts for 45% of all fraud losses, according to UK Finance. (UK Finance also estimates that the total number of fraud instances (cases) on cards issued in the UK was 2,835,622 in 2020, compared to 1,820,726 instances (cases) in 2016.
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, between April 2021 and March 2022 there were 2.3 million “bank and card frauds”, 1.4 million “consumer and retail frauds”, 599,000 “advance frauds” and 245,000 “other frauds”. “Bank and card fraud” accounts for 51% of total recorded fraud committed against E&W residents and recorded by CSEW.
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