Card Fraud Soars, But Not Fraud Rate. Thanks To Visa

Here's an interesting stat: As payment card fraud continues to soar each year, the actual rate of fraud—in an X cents per $100 perspective—has remained impressively the same, according to new figures released by The Nilson Report this week. Payment card fraud worldwide in 2009 reached $6.9 billion out of a total of $16.631 trillion in purchases, cash advances and withdrawals. That means card fraud grew 7 percent last year, which is on par with the rough increases from recent years.

From 2002 through 2009, the overall amount of annual card fraud has more than doubled, from $3 billion in losses to about $7 billion. But the card fraud rate—the ratio of fraud to total purchases—has essentially plateaued during those same years, at roughly 4.8 cents. It actually moved from 4.9 to 4.6 to 4.8 and then to 4.7. Back in 1991, that rate had topped 6 cents. In short, this suggests that anti-fraud techniques—especially those from key card brands, particularly Visa—have been much more effective than they've been given--no pun intended--credit for.