POP Center Home Problems Check and Card Fraud 2nd Ed Summary

Summary of Responses to Check and Card Fraud                                                  previous page next page 

The table below summarizes the responses to check and card fraud, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Response No.


How It Works

Works Best If…


Working With Businesses


Raising responsibility awareness

Local businesses and card issuers are encouraged to take more responsibility for preventing fraud

…police emphasize the community costs of fraud to merchants

Many security, card-issuing, and verification policies are dictated by national and international card issuers, bankers, and retail chains, making it difficult to change local practices


Increasing the reporting of fraud

Data collection allows police to determine the extent of the problem in their area

…it is combined with a preventive program (see response #3)

The media may portray increased reporting of incidents as a “crime wave” demanding a police crackdown, rather than an aid to planned preventive procedures


Verifying checks, cards, and users

Retailers with high check or card fraud losses are targeted, and verification procedures are established

…verification procedures are integrated into the established checkout practices, and an evaluation demonstrates cost- effectiveness

Merchants may resist spending money on verification, especially if it requires investing in new technology and changing checkout procedures


Training checkout staff

Regular staff training raises awareness about fraud prevention

…police establish a close, trusting relationship with businesses and clearly communicate goals

Merchants may distrust police attempts to participate in staff training sessions


Reducing card application fraud

Vacant residences and newly occupied residences where credit card information may be sent are identified

…police work closely with postal employees and real estate agencies to ensure that mail is not delivered to unoccupied residences, and is forwarded to the appropriate people

Vacant residences may be in several different mail- delivery areas, requiring extensive coordination with the post office


Using information to fight online card fraud

Specified websites alert users to online fraud

…police provide prevention and enforcement information to small local businesses

It is difficult to evaluate this response’s effect on online fraud, since it is primarily directed at enhancing police-business relations; generally, preventing online fraud is beyond the means of local police


Tracking products

Police work with delivery companies, local retailers, and Neighborhood Watch to monitor product delivery and product returns

…manufacturers, retailers, and delivery companies use new tracking technology

Cost-effectiveness may be difficult to determine; tracking may work in reducing related crimes such as shoplifting and theft of items in transit


Raising perceptions of wrongdoing and risk

Retailers post warning signs at checkouts

…retailers keep records of check and card fraud both before and after posting signs, to measure their effectiveness

Merchants may resist this response, inexpensive though it is, for fear that it will have a negative effect on law-abiding customers

Community Partnerships


Educating cardholders

Educational programs teach people to avoid victimization by taking simple precautions

…it is combined with crime prevention education about a variety of crimes for which they may be targeted

This response requires considerable cooperation from community groups and schools


Publicizing costs of fraud

The media are used to publicize the financial and human costs of fraud

…police work with businesses and the media to craft stories that emphasize crime prevention

Stories of victimization may affect businesses negatively; media treatment of stories and information may be unpredictable; effectiveness is probably not measurable


Collaborating with colleges

Police encourage colleges to establish responsible-use policies for computing facilities, to minimize hacking

…it is combined with crime prevention education about a variety of crimes for which they may be targeted

Effectiveness is difficult to measure, and depends on colleges’ willingness to invite local police to their campuses to help solve crime problems



Monitoring fencing outlets, pawnshops, and online auctions

Police work with businesses to develop strategies to track goods that may be stolen

…police acquire extensive local and regional knowledge of known fencing and pawnshop operations

Local businesses must cooperate in identifying and tracking goods


Monitoring chat rooms, bulletin boards, and bogus websites

Police conduct surveillance of crime-facilitating Internet venues

…police get help from ISPs and computer crime experts

It is difficult to determine whether online fraudsters live in your area


Targeting high- risk merchants

Police determine what stores have high rates of fraud and focus their efforts on them

…police work with business associations to collect information if incident data are not available

Information-sharing requires a long-term, trusting relationship between police and businesses


Getting help from experts

Experts on fraud provide information and skills that may help with local problems

…police network with professional security consultants and fraud squads at the local, regional, and national level

Fraud squads may be investigation- rather than problem-oriented

Responses With Limited Effectiveness


Conducting crackdowns

Police conduct very public, intensive campaigns to catch fraudsters


Merchants may fear that crackdowns will drive business away


Implementing business watch

Businesses set up programs similar to Neighborhood Watch

…programs are focused on specific crimes, rather than crime in general

Businesses must have clear crime-prevention goals


Handling offenders through means other than the criminal justice system

Police and/or businesses issue offenders warnings, require victim compensation, and/or require counseling rather than make formal criminal reports


This response has usually been used with juveniles who have committed other offenses; it has not been evaluated for check and card fraud


Conducting publicity campaigns

Police alone publicize fraud risks

…it is combined with the implementation of practical security measures

Research has not shown this response, alone, to be effective

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