Payment fraud on the rise at U.S. banks, credit unions: Fed survey

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U.S. financial institutions recorded higher fraud losses in 2016 across almost all major payment types, according to a new survey of 283 banks and credit unions.

The results, released Tuesday, suggest that even as financial institutions implement more sophisticated fraud-mitigation techniques, they have not been keeping pace with criminals. The challenges are particularly acute at smaller banks and credit unions, which comprised a majority of the survey’s respondents.

Still, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which conducted the survey, said that its findings provide valuable insights about the usefulness of various fraud-fighting tools.

Of the banks and credit unions that participated, 63% said that fraud losses on signature-based debit cards were higher in 2016 than they were a year earlier, while only 15% said that losses were lower.

Similarly, 50% of the respondents said that fraud losses on PIN-based debit cards increased in 2016, while only 12% said that they decreased.

When asked about credit cards, 41% of the financial institutions said that losses rose, while 16% said that they fell.

The survey found that when financial institutions were asked about paper checks, wire transfers and prepaid cards, they were also more likely to report higher losses than lower losses.

The only exception to the trend was fraud involving funds credited to accounts using the automated clearing house network. Only 2% of survey respondents said that type of fraud increased in 2016, while 4% said that it decreased.

The survey also found that 65% of the respondents outsource their debit card fraud management, which means they have no internal expertise on the topic.

About half of banks and credit unions surveyed said that providing customers access to online information about their accounts has proven very effective at mitigating fraud.

“This finding seems to indicate that when other methods fail, the customer is relied on to identify fraudulent transactions,” the Minneapolis Fed stated in its report.

The online survey was conducted last summer. More than six in 10 of the banks and credit unions that participated had assets of $200 million or less.

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Fraud losses Card fraud Payment fraud Fraud detection Community banks Credit unions Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis