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.
  • ATM cash-out fraud – in this crime, a criminal organization hacks into the networks of payment card companies to steal the card numbers and remove any spending or withdrawal limits. The card numbers are sent 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 (ATMs).

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.