Signature Debit Fraud Runs 15 Times Higher Than on PIN Debit

Digital Transactions News

Oct. 12, 2005


“Financial institutions lost an estimated $546 million to debit card fraud in 2004, with fraud rates running much higher on signature-based cards than on cards secured with PINs, according to study released this week. Banks lost $345 million in fraud committed on ATMs, while fraud on signature-debit cards cost them $193 million and PIN debit cards at the point of sale sustained $8 million in losses. These are among new debit card fraud statistics compiled by the study, which was conducted this summer by Dove Consulting and sponsored by Pulse EFT Association, a Houston-based unit of Discover Financial Services LLC. “Transaction volumes for both PIN and signature debit continue to grow, yet observers increasingly are questioning the soundness of these payment mechanisms,” says an executive summary of the report in explaining why Dove and Pulse sought to measure fraud rates, and in particular to compare the loss rates on PIN and signature-based cards.


The loss rate attributable to signature-debit cards is approximately 15 times greater than that for PIN debit when losses are measured against either transaction or dollar volume, the study says. Fraud on signature cards ran 1.6 cents per transaction, whereas the loss rate on PIN debit ran 1/10 of a penny per payment. On average, issuers lose $1.15 per card per year to signature-debit fraud, compared with 4 cents on PIN debit cards, though the average loss on a PIN card is significantly higher: $160 versus $86 on a signature card.
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Why More Merchants Are Adopting PIN Debit

Digital Transaction News

April 4, 2004


“Debit cards linked to personal identification numbers are slowly but surely penetrating more and more merchant locations, and as a result PIN debit transactions will begin to overtake transactions on signature-based debit cards within five years, says an analyst at Speer & Associates Inc., Atlanta, who has studied the issue. For years, says Ali Raza, vice president at Speer, merchants resisted PIN debit because of the cost of the point-of-sale PIN pads necessary to process transactions, but the devices have steadily dropped in price and now range between $100 and $150. The devices are still rare among small retailers and in certain merchant categories, such as hotels and restaurants, but they are beginning to migrate down the retailing ranks from large supermarket chains, which were among the first to deploy them “Mid-tier merchants have started to install them,” says Raza. He figures anywhere from 25% to 30% of all U.S. merchant locations are now equipped with PIN pads, up from 20% a year ago.
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