• Better prevention, detection and punishment of non-cash payment fraud 
  • Improved EU-wide cooperation to tackle cross-border fraud better 
  • Rights of victims to be better protected  

New EU rules to protect EU citizens against non-cash payment fraud, such as credit card theft, skimming or phishing, were agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday.

Parliament and Council negotiators reached an informal agreement on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment such as cards, electronic wallets, mobile payments and virtual currencies. Current gaps and differences among EU countries’ laws hamper prevention, detection and punishment of these crimes.

The new rules will:

  • establish the minimum penalty in cases where a judge imposes the national “maximum” custodial sentence for non-cash payment fraud,
  • include virtual-currency transactions in the scope of offences,
  • improve EU-wide cooperation and facilitate information exchange to ensure cross-border frauds are better dealt with,
  • strengthen assistance to non-cash fraud victims, such as psychological support, advice on financial, practical and legal matters, and
  • improve prevention and awareness-raising, e.g. through campaigning, education and on-line information tools with practical examples of fraud cases; special attention should be paid to the needs and interests of vulnerable people.

Non-cash payments are constantly increasing in the digital era. This has made non-cash payment fraud, such as credit card theft or fraud using newer technologies such as skimming or phishing, an important source of income for organised crime.

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Rapporteur Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (S&D, DE) said: "Non-cash payments with credit cards or virtual currencies are used more and more frequently. Criminals exploit loopholes in the current legal framework which dates back to 2001. It was therefore high time to adapt the rules to fight non-cash fraud to the newest technological developments.”

“We harmonised the definitions of online crime offences throughout the EU and introduced a minimum level for penalties. Moreover, the European Parliament achieved during the negotiations that the current rules for the protection of victims of non-cash fraud will be strengthened”, Ms Kaufmann added.

Next steps

The agreed text now needs to be formally approved by the Civil Liberties Committee, Parliament as a whole and the Council before entering into force.