Card fraud losses in Europe rose by an average of 6% in 2014, according to a new report from analytic software company Fico based on data from business intelligence group Euromonitor International.

Cross-border fraud, where criminals use data on cards from one country to commit fraudulent transactions in another territory, is proving to be a particular problem – with the £29 million annual rise in UK card fraud losses alone mainly attributed to this activity, as the nation's domestic losses remained flat.

Some 70% of of UK card fraud losses were due to card-not-present (CNP) fraud, while the percentage of fraud losses from CNP fraud averaged 41% for western European countries, and 23% for eastern European countries. The research was conducted across 19 countries in total.

Although eCommerce spending in the UK more than doubled between 2008 and 2014, CNP fraud losses have grown just 1% in that time, despite it becoming a greater share of UK card losses.

Martin Warwick, Fico's fraud chief in Europe, said: "Identity theft has become an opportunity for criminals to exploit in this digital age of banking.

"As more and more people embrace the ease of banking and shopping digitally, using the ever-expanding collection of tablets, phablets, smartphones and laptops, it becomes difficult to identify the person making the payment or purchase and there becomes an ever-increasing risk that criminals will exploit this opportunity."

Fico's report indicated that France had the highest card fraud losses relative to card sales, followed by Greece and the UK. Russia saw the fastest growth in card fraud losses at 24%, reflecting substantial card sales growth of 36%.

"Any market that is growing will attract criminals' attention and that's exactly what is happening in Russia," explained Warwick.

"EMV has a long way to go to reach maturity in Russia. However, overall Russia has low fraud relative to sales. The key aim for banks will be to ensure that when growth in sales slows they are also in a position to slow the growth in fraud losses."

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