Payment cards

Payment card fraud is a generic term used to describe a range of offences involving theft and the fraudulent use of payment card account data. Frequent types of payment card fraud include:

  • Application fraud – a type of ID theft crime in which payment cards are obtained through a fraudulent application process using stolen or counterfeit documents.
  • Account takeover – another type of ID theft crime, this usually involves deception of a financial institution, re-issue of a payment card and its redirection to a different address.
  • Lost / stolen card – as the name suggests, this type of fraud involves misuse of actual cards that are either lost or stolen from the genuine cardholder.
  • Counterfeit card – this is fraud undertaken using plastic cards that have been specifically produced or existing cards that have been altered. These cards are encoded with illegally obtained payment card account data in order to pay for goods and services or to withdraw cash.
  • Card not present (CNP) – this type of fraud is committed using payment card account data to undertake transactions where there is no face-to-face contact between the seller and purchaser. Typically, this type of fraud is committed by Internet, mail order or telephone. CNP fraud is currently the fastest growing payment card related type of fraud in many areas of the world.

INTERPOL's involvement

At INTERPOL, we offer specialized assistance to national law enforcement authorities in our member countries through a range of operational support, database services and police training.

The INTERPOL Counterfeit Payment Cards Database was specifically created to assist in the fight against counterfeit payment card fraud, and is recognized as a valuable tool for successful collaboration on a global scale.

We offer standard or tailored police training courses to enhance the capabilities of regional and national police in this field, depending on their specific operational and strategic needs. In some cases, course material is developed in collaboration with national law enforcement authorities as well as the payment card industry.

In addition to making available its full range of services to law enforcement authorities, some of INTERPOL's tools are also available to payment card fraud investigators from the financial sector.

Cooperation and partnerships

We regularly host meetings of our Advisory Group on Payment Card Fraud. This group is a panel of senior investigators and forensic experts from several member countries, Europol, American Express, MasterCard and Visa. The group assists INTERPOL in developing strategies to combat transnational organized payment card fraud.

We are also engaged in developing strategic partnerships with other international organizations and private-sector bodies. We continue to explore ways in which we can improve collaboration with other non-law enforcement entities committed to reducing payment card fraud, such as the EU Fraud Prevention Expert Group, the ATM Industry Association, and the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators as well as other institutions.

Payment card security advice

The PCI Security Standards Council provides information for merchants, financial institutions, software developers and industry professionals with the aim of enhancing payment card data security.

ATM card cloning

Cybercrime networks are increasingly using sophisticated means of stealing money, such as ‘ATM cash-out schemes’.

It begins when the cybercriminals hack into the network of a bank or payment card company, to steal the card numbers and remove any spending or withdrawal limits. The card numbers are sent out to members of the network around the world, who code them onto blank cards and use them to withdraw massive amounts of cash from bank machines. They often target prepaid cards, as large withdrawals or unusual spending are less likely to be flagged to the owner or the financial institution.  

In two connected cases in 2012 and 2013, a cybercrime network accessed the card numbers of prepaid debit cards issued by banks in the Middle East and used them to steal some USD 45 million in cash from bank machines in 26 countries. The money was laundered through purchases of luxury goods such as expensive watches and sports cars.

25 November 2015

Experts gather at INTERPOL to identify emerging social engineering fraud techniques

18 November 2015

Indian prime minister and INTERPOL Chief discuss cooperation

18 November 2015

Global asset recovery cooperation focus of INTERPOL-StAR conference

06 November 2015

More than 130 detained in global action tackling airline ticket fraud

02 October 2015

Identifying fake documents focus of INTERPOL and Frontex workshop

21 September 2015

INTERPOL training in Senegal tackles corruption and financial crimes

06 August 2015

Corruption and financial crime focus of INTERPOL training in Botswana

04 August 2015

Illegal online gambling in Asia targeted in INTERPOL operation

02 July 2015

Forensic document examination focus of Balkans INTERPOL training

29 June 2015

Global action against online air ticket fraudsters sees 130 detained

05 June 2015

INTERPOL group to field test new ink dating protocols to aid fraud and forgery investigations

02 June 2015

UK initiative underlines role of due diligence in securing official documents

19 May 2015

INTERPOL meeting in Bucharest aims to set the course for European security

30 January 2015

Estonia hosts INTERPOL workshop on anti-corruption and financial crimes

28 November 2014

Global action against online fraud in the airline sector nets 118 arrests

16 September 2014

International cooperation against counterfeit currency and travel documents focus of INTERPOL meeting

22 May 2014

INTERPOL meeting puts document security under the microscope

30 April 2014

Criminal network involved in payment card fraud dismantled with INTERPOL support