Card fraud made criminal gangs an estimated €1.5bn in 2012, according to a new report from the European cross-nation law enforcement agency Europol.
Its Situation Report on Payment Card Fraud in the European Union, based on data provided by law enforcement agencies and other partners, found that thefts continue to blight consumers, especially when data is lost by companies, notably in the US.
This makes it easier for crooks to carry out "card not present" scams, such as ordering goods online or over the phone using information gathered illegally. Europol estimated €900m of card fraud is committed in this way.
Demand for credit card information on the internet's black markets is also rocketing as crooks turn to cloned card production.
However, although the money made by crooks is still worryingly high, the fight against card fraud is having some success. Despite more cards being issued than ever before, 726 million according to the European Central Bank, card fraud is declining.
Europol attributed this to the rollout of Chip and PIN card machines across Europe, which are far harder for criminals to hack.
Nevertheless, machines overseas in countries such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico still pose a threat to EU citizens, Europol warned, as crooks use their vast networks to target non-Chip and PIN machines.
This is forcing international agencies to work closely together to tackle the crooks together, as witnessed by several high-profile cases last year.
This effort should be boosted by the opening of the new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), in The Hague this week. This will help centralise efforts to fight online crime and protecting citizens, the European Commission said, when it was first announced in March 2012.
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