2014 Fraud Spike Cost US Retailers $32 Billion

For retailers and card issuers, the push to switch over to EMV and tokenized payments can’t come fast enough, as 2014 saw a spike in the total costs of fraudulent purchases among U.S. retailers, according to a LexisNexis study. One troubling development from the fraud study shows that mobile payments are increasingly more susceptible to fraud than they have been since 2010, which is costing merchants more to prevent than online or card fraud, even considering the highly publicized retail data breaches from the last two years.

According to the data, annual fraud costs reached $32 billion in 2014, a 38 percent increase over 2013, which has galvanized calls for more secure payments processing from both private companies and public officials. Fraudulent payments account for 0.68 percent of retail revenue, up from 0.51 percent in 2013, both due to yearly increases in retail sales as well as the greater impact of mobile payment software. On a similar line, prevention has also gotten more expensive at $3.08 per every dollar lost to fraud, up from $2.79 just a year before.

The emphasis on mobile and online fraud that LexisNexis reported is also a sign that the switch to EMV in October may not be the silver bullet some merchants think it might be. While it is more secure thanks to the chip-and-PIN structure, the card still has to be present, so the risk of point-of-sale data theft is still there, as well as increased risk of criminals turning their guns to e-commerce. E-commerce merchants were adversely affected by the fraud increase in 2014, reporting 0.85 percent of revenue being lost as a result of hacks, slightly more than the average for retailers.

Virtual currency merchants, such as those who use Bitcoin and make up around 11 percent of the retail business, were the most likely to be hit by online fraud, with losses more than double those seen by retailers that did not use cryptocurrency.