Debit card fraud losses have decreased by 42% for the period January to September 2013, according to the latest banking industry’s card crime statistics as released by SABRIC (The South African Banking Risk Information Centre).

This figure is significantly lower when compared to the previous year (2012) which saw the industry loosing R204-million to debit card fraud. This year, the debit card gross fraud losses amounted to R117,7-million.

SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay says the decrease can be attributed to changes in the business processes and systems in the banks as well the ongoing collaborative efforts between the industry and law enforcement.

However, the banking industry still calls on customers to be vigilant when transacting.

Although debit card fraud improved, the industry is however concerned about the increase in credit card fraud. Credit card fraud losses have increased by 22% from R300,6-million in 2012 to R366,8-million in 2013.

Card Not Present (CNP) fraud, which is a major loss category, increased by 16% during the same period, from R154,7-million in 2012 to R178,7-million in 2013.

The statistics indicate that most credit card fraud losses occurred outside the borders of South Africa for the period under review. In 2012, 45% of credit card fraud losses occurred outside the borders of South Africa. This figure has increased to 60,1% for the period under review.

Credit card fraud losses on South Africa issued credit cards used inside South Africa decreased by 11,4% in 2013.

Counterfeit card fraud remains high. “Criminals are progressively using counterfeit South African issued credit cards in neighbouring countries such as Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique and these transactions are mostly related to fraudulent cash withdrawals at ATMs,” says Pillay.

When it comes to international trends, South Africa mirrors the UK in terms of card fraud with increases in CNP, counterfeit and lost and/or stolen card fraud.

The prevalence of card skimming incidents in South Africa is still very high and a significant portion of the fraud losses can still be linked to counterfeit card fraud. In the UK, criminals are now reverting back to more basic frauds such as stealing cards and PINs through shoulder surfing and card swopping at ATMs similar to the modus operandi seen in South Africa.