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Is There Really Safety In Numbers?

In a week where FICO has published its interactive fraud map showing how European card fraud has changed over the last 5 years, and reflected on the considerable reductions across the UK card fraud market, there was a cautionary tale issued by the mass media. The Guardian has published an article about how UK banks are getting tougher on card fraud consumer victims: “Now banks are trying to pin the blame for card fraud on you.”

As I reflected upon in this blog almost 2 years ago, there remains an “ambient” level of fraud caused by fraud migration and mutation. Banks are now often grappling with an increasing frequency of identity theft, first-party fraud and “friendly fraud” (the latter where credentials are shared maliciously). Trying to distinguish these types of fraud attacks from the otherwise innocent consumer victim is often incredibly difficult.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that the banks and even the Ombudsman may increasingly conclude that card and PIN use denied by a consumer must have its origins in either neglect of the payment token, such as sharing a card, or disclosure of the verification credentials, such as writing down or disclosing one’s PIN? Otherwise how else could the fraud occur? Unfortunately, there are times when an innocent consumer may find themselves subject to apparent neglect/disclosure fraud.

This serves as a strong reminder for consumers to be vigilant and to treat their cards and personal access details “like cash.” Anything less may lead to an unwelcome conclusion by one’s bank in the event of unauthorised use.

This cautionary tale is also an excellent example of why banks must continue to adopt and maintain anti-fraud defences in spite of chip and PIN successes. Anomalous or irregular access, spending or withdrawals can be spotted and distinguished from genuine consumer activity, and verification contact made to the consumer, before a fraudster has the chance to perform runaway spending or plunder available credits.

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