There is a continuing rise in fraudulent transactions resulting from compromised credit card details. However, now comes news that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) has teamed up with the retail industry (Retail Excellence) in a bid to combat this growing problem of ‘Card Not Present’ (CNP) fraud, which occurs when a payment card is not physically presented during a phone or online transaction.
Retailers are being targeted by CNP fraud but consumers are also vulnerable because most CNP fraud involves the use of payment card details that have been compromised and obtained through skimming, hacking, email phishing, telephone solicitations or other unlawful methods. The compromised payment card details are then used to facilitate fraudulent transactions.
In 2015, card fraud was €29.6 million in Ireland. 70% of this fraud (almost €21million) occurred in a card not present environment, i.e. online purchases, telephone purchases etc. In the first half of 2016 there was €20.8million card fraud in Ireland, 78% of which was due to compromises in a card not present environment.
The Garda Síochána-Retail Excellence collaboration takes place as part of a broader Europol campaign this month aimed at combating online fraud that arises from compromised card data. Europol E-Commerce Action Week took place from June 6 to 16th and saw officers in 23 countries deployed to ‘hotspots’ and take action based on intelligence and investigations.
As part of the Europol effort, officers from the GNECB targeted a number of residences in the Dublin area suspected to be facilitating CNP fraud. As a result of the operation:
· 10 search warrants were applied for on foot of information provided by the Gardaí’s private sector partners;
· Six searches of residential properties were carried out in Tallaght, Drimnagh, Tyrellstown and Balbriggan by GNECB;
· 1 person arrested and detained at Balbriggan Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994;
· Details of over 100 compromised US issued payment cards were recovered.
One recent target of CNP fraud was a major national sports retailer. Over a two-week period in March, there were 172 successful and attempted purchases from their online store using compromised payment cards from the US. If all 172 attempts were successful, the retailer would have lost out on approximately €16,000 in revenue. A smaller retailer in the west of Ireland was also targeted in recent months.
Speaking to us, Detective Garda Jim O’Meara of the GNECB, said: “We are definitely witnessing a sharp rise in the level of CNP fraud activity in the past 18 months and we would attribute it to the uplift in the economy and a related rise in online shopping. This results in greater numbers of consumers being vulnerable to having their payment card details compromised, which are then sold on the darkweb where they can be accessed by criminals who go on to fraud retailers either online, over the phone, or even through mail order transactions.
“Officers from the Economic Crime Bureau recently acted on a number of leads in this area in line with our counterparts across Europe. We were pleased with the results and investigations are continuing.
“Our advice to Irish consumers to help prevent their cards being compromised is to always buy from trusted sources, use credit cards when purchasing things online, never send money upfront to an online seller, and never send your card number PIN or other information to anyone by email.”
Retail Excellence spokesperson Lorraine Higgins said “With the significant growth in online sales this year whereby €850,000 is being spent every hour by Irish consumers it was clear that ancillary issues would eventually arise. Our internal Loss Prevention Group chaired by Harvey Norman’s Michael Neary had flagged this as an issue and took proactive steps which ultimately led to the collaboration between Retail Excellence and the Gardai. Therefore, c onsumers can be assured that our member retailers are working hard to ensure their security when purchasing goods and services from them.
We would advise that retailers be vigilant and if you suspect something is not as it seems then do not hesitate to contact An Garda Siochana.”
Online Shopping & Fraud Statistics (Source: Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland)
In 2016, €41 billion was spent on debit and credit cards issued in Ireland. A total of €13.2 billion (32%) of this total was spent online.
In 2015, card fraud was €29.6 million in Ireland. 70% of this fraud (almost €21million) occurred in a card not present environment, i.e. online purchases, telephone purchases etc.
In the first half of 2016 there was €20.8million overall card fraud in Ireland, 78% of which was due to compromises in a card not present environment.
Latest full year figures available for card fraud are 2015.
Europol’s Golden Rules for Safe Online Shopping
Buy from trusted sources. Use brands and shops that you are familiar with or have used before and check the ratings of individual sellers on sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Control the recurring charges. Before providing your car details to pay for a continuous service over the internet, find out how you can stop that service.
Many e-merchant sites will ask to store your payment details. Think twice before deciding and make sure you understand the risks this might imply.
Use credit cards when purchasing things online. Most credit cards have a strong customer protection policy. If you don’t get what you ordered the card issuer will refund you.
Make sure the data transfer is appropriately protected. Look for the padlock symbol on the URL bar and use HTTPS and SSL protocols when browsing over internet.
Always save all documents related to your online purchases. They may be needed to establish the terms and conditions of the sale to prove that you have paid for the goods.
If you are not buying a specific product or service, don’t submit your card details.
When purchasing something online from another person, don’t send money upfront to the seller. If possible, reserve the right to receive the goods first.
Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know. If someone approaches you online and asks for money, think whether you would give the same amount to an unknown person on the street.
Never send your card number, PIN or any other card information to anyone by email.
Avoid doing your online shopping at sites that don’t use full authentication (verified by Visa/Mastercard/Secure Code).
Never send your card details in an unencrypted email. Some online shops outside of Europe may request a copy of your card and passport by fax as a guarantee.
NB – ‘Golden Rule Safe Online Shopping’ tips for consumers is available on the Garda website.