Santa Claws: Will You Be a Credit Card Fraud Victim This Holiday Season?

Three letters may spell trouble for you in the frantic shopping season that is about to explode: CNP, which stands for Card Not Present. That – obviously – is how online merchants process payments (unlike, say, a local pizzeria, they never see or touch the plastic). And at least some experts are predicting an explosion in CNP over the holidays.

CNP fraud is going up three times faster than card present fraud, said Julie Conroy, a banking expert at consulting firm Aite Group.

That was expected, kind of – but the fast velocity of growth is much brisker than had been anticipated. And, said Conroy, expect to see still more: “We see steady growth for CNP fraud.”

The trigger event happened October 1 when both merchants and card issuers were supposed to – by edict of MasterCard and Visa – be ready for so-called EMV cards, aka chip cards. The plus of a chip card is that it dramatically cuts down on card counterfeiting. With mag stripe cards, card printers were plentiful and cheap, as was card stock. Anybody with a stolen credit card number could print out a new card and be in business thieving at a local merchant. Not so with EMV, where the chip technology introduces complexities that, so far, seem beyond the ability of crooks, certainly of run-of-the-mill criminals, to manufacture counterfeits.

So they turn to online shopping where the chip plays no role, because – again – the online merchant never sees or touches the plastic.

Just about very fraud expert had predicted a spurt in CNP fraud post October 1, but Conroy is saying CNP started exploding before October 1, and the theft has just kept on surging.

She’s not alone. ACI Worldwide, a global provider of electronic payment and banking solutions, has said its data show a 28% spike in card not present fraud, which ACI attributes to the deployment of EMV.


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