Infotech

Card fraud falls for the first time in three years


Posted 3 Feb. 2022 at 06:17 PMUpdated 3 Feb. 2022 at 19:04

The fight against card and check fraud is beginning to bear fruit. According to the Observatory for the Security of Payment Means, published this Thursday by the Banque de France, fraud in scriptural transactions – which therefore do not include cash – amounted to 644 million euros for 3.6 million fraudulent transactions during the first half of 2021. Or more or less half of that observed by their amount and number over the whole of 2020 (1.28 billion euros, for 7.8 million of operations).

Such a trend towards stability contrasts with previous years when the development of online payments – and more generally the digitization of payments – was accompanied by an increase in fraud rates on the various means of payment. However, the battle is not yet won, details the observatory. A three-point review of the main lessons from the first part of 2021.

61 cents defrauded for 1,000 euros paid by card

The card has lost its status as the most fraudulent means of payment, the check having done worse in 2020. It is even forming good habits. In the first half of 2021, it recorded the first drop in its fraud rate, after three years of continuous increases.

The share of fraudulent transactions out of all card transactions stood at 0.061% over the period, compared to 0.068% in 2020. In other words, for 1,000 euros paid by card, 61 cents are defrauded. The news is all the more encouraging as card payments have increased further, to reach 59% of all non-cash transactions.

The observatory also notes that the French continue to favor contactless payment: this means of payment, which took off during the Covid crisis, reached 57% of in-store transactions at the end of the first half of 2021, against 46% at the end of 2020. “It is also a very secure means of payment since its fraud rate is close to that, very low, of fraud at the point of sale, at 0.01%”, underlined Julien Lasalle, the secretary of the Payment Means Security Observatory.

Online fraud rate drops to 0.149%

Behind this drop in the card fraud rate, there is mainly the entry into force of strong authentication measures – which replaces the payment confirmation SMS. This reform has made it possible to plunge fraud on remote payments to 0.149% against 0.174% in 2020, i.e. the lowest level ever reached.

This change in the security paradigm was all the more necessary as online payments experienced a real explosion in the wake of the pandemic and the various episodes of confinement. “We expect the remote payment fraud rate to decline further in the second half of the year, given that in the first part of last year, the reform had not fully entered into force,” said Julien Lasalle.

44% of amounts defrauded by check

The check is once again singled out as the poor student of means of payment. In the first half of 2021, checks accounted for 44% of fraudulent amounts, compared to 34% for cards. In 2020, checks accounted for 41% of fraud. This is explained by the relatively high amount of fraud on this means of payment, which is on average 2,300 euros.

“The check is the only means of payment to record a significant increase in its fraud rate, which stands at 0.097% (compared to 0.088% in 2020)”, underlines the observatory. This is mainly due to the decline in the number of checks in circulation, while the amount of fraud is stagnating. The reason is simple: its use becoming rarer, merchants and individuals are less vigilant about this method of payment. What makes the business of fraudsters.

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