Year after year, non-cash payments across the European Union are increasing. In 2016 alone, the total number of non-cash payments in the EU increased by 8.5% to €122 billion, with card payments accounting for half of all transactions. Such a phenomenon calls for a legislative reaction from policy-makers, and that is why, today, the European Parliament’s Committee for Justice and Home Affairs voted on new rules to combat fraud from credit cards and other non-cash payments such as through debit cards, cheques and online transfers.
Nuno Melo MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokesman on the dossier, said: “Technological developments brought their own commodities, including easier means of payment. However, such developments should be accompanied by updated legislation that prevents criminals from taking advantage of any loopholes. Today’s vote is a step in this direction: to ensure that Member States have the necessary tools and regulations to combat fraud in the use of non-cash payments.” This is particularly necessary as, for the majority of cases, the perpetrator and the victim are not based in the same country, and therefore, law enforcement authorities need to exchange information in a short time frame.
Melo also referred to the fact that the MEPs voted to increase the protection and rights of victims of cybercrime, including fraud of non-cash payments. “This kind of fraud can involve large sums of money, leaving victims empty handed. The Report approved today includes specific provisions in ensuring that victims of cybercrime are protected and that their rights are safeguarded.” Such provisions include facilitating the reporting of the crime, including the setting-up of national secure online fraud reporting systems, whilst also ensuring that consumers are provided with advice on how to protect themselves against the negative consequences of fraud and against reputational damage arising from it.
This new proposal doesn't only criminalise the use of stolen or counterfeited payment instruments; it also criminalises the possession, sale, procurement for use, import or distribution, of such instruments. “We cannot take such things lightly. Criminal action should be taken not only against users of stolen payment instruments to be used in a fraudulent manner, but also against those who are in possession of such instruments”, Melo concluded.
The European Parliament will now enter into negotiations with the other Institutions.