On Monday (Jan. 19), the British Retail Consortium reported that over $910 million was stolen from retail outlets in 2014 — an 18 percent increase from the year prior. This is despite the fact that the volume of actual offenses decreased by 4 percent, indicating that criminals are now targeting bulk items of higher value.
The yearly study also pointed out the increasing prevalence of fraud as a method of theft, especially in online retail. Fraud, both online and in person, increased by 12 percent over the time frame, to 37 percent of all retail crime, with most of it done online. Within that percentage of crime that is related to fraud is an increasing frequency of credit and debit card fraud, which the year prior made up 53 percent of all fraud, specifically "Card Not Present" fraud, common in areas with magnetic strip-dependent debit cards. In 2013, credit and debit card fraud had accounted for over 75 percent of instances, as well as 50 percent of money losses, while account fraud made up 19 percent of incidents and 30 percent of losses.
Similar to what happened in the United States last year, and may become a frightening reality in the lead up to the October EMV changeover, fraudsters (often well organized) are targeting major stores and big ticket items where quick payouts are common, especially in acquiring numbers of those that still process payments with magnetic strip cards (which still exist in Britain despite EMV being more common).
For American retailers and card processors, who will be expected to shoulder the burden of guarding against fraud by the end of the year, fraud coming from a more EMV-friendly country may increase the need for better security and encryption of sensitive data. One place to start would be to institute 3D Secure and third party screening procedures for transactions, which in the 2013 BRC study were the Top 2 methods of theft protection favored by retailers. There might never be a foolproof way of combating fraud, but there can at least be steps taken to ensure that customer data is protected fully. EMV is one step forward, but as Britain shows us, there is a lot more that needs to be done.