Payment Card Usage Is Up. Payment Card Fraud Is Up More.

If you were under the impression that payment card fraud was headed down, new numbers from the Nilson Report aren't going to brighten your day. The newsletter reported last Thursday (Aug. 22) that while card usage globally was up by 11.4 percent in 2012 compared with 2011, card fraud was up by 14.6 percent. That works out to 5.22 cents per $100 in payment volume, up from 5.07 cents in 2011. (Incidentally, the U.S. share of those fraud losses is 47.3 percent, even though the U.S. only generated 23.5 percent of total volume.)

Nilson points out that while card fraud has risen over the past two years, that was after being flat for eight years, and it's still near historic lows. That's great, but it seems to miss the point: Now fraud is rising again. That, and the fact that the U.S. is the only region where counterfeit-card fraud is consistently growing (thanks in part to U.S. issuers' and merchants' mag-stripe addiction), really should be keeping retail payments-security people up at night. After all, you can bet card thieves are up late, working to make things even worse.