The devil is in the details - an old adage I know, but just the other day I was struck by how accurate that phrase can be. In an online daily news service for Payments professionals there were 2 very different headlines on consecutive days. On day 1 the headline read “UK: Fraud reaches record levels in 2011”, followed the next day by “UK: Fraud losses on debit and credit cards reach the lowest level in 10 years”
How should a Retailer or other merchant respond to headlines like that? Should they increase investment in anti-fraud measures or re-allocate some of that spend to driving new marketing programmes as the risk of fraud is reduced? A more detailed investigation is required – I took a close look at each report, rather than relying on the headlines.
My first observation is that the reports were from two different sources and were talking about different sets of statistics. The “fraud is getting worse” one was from CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, covering all fraud reported to the National Fraud Database, and the “fraud is reducing” one was from The UK Cards Association covering debit and credit card fraud only. So is that the reason? Well, no it isn’t. The CIFAS report states that plastic card fraud has increased by 6.3% from 2010 to 2011 whereas the UK Cards Association says the overall rate has decreased by 7%.