From better hygiene to versatility and higher safety from theft, It is well known that using credit cards over cash has its advantages. Studies show that over the last ten years, cash transactions in the UK decreased by 20% and, with the pandemic causing lots of businesses to go cashless in the effort to defeat the virus, customers all over the world started to pay with alternative methods such as debit and credit cards or e-wallets.
However, using cards instead of cash has its disadvantages too, like the possibility of becoming a victim of cybercrime and other types of fraud.
There are different kinds of credit card frauds including card skimming and phishing. To spread awareness on some of these issues, Merchant Machine conducted a study which looks at the countries most at risk of credit card frauds, by analysing different metrics including the Google Search volume of words related to cybercrime, the number and value of frauds in each individual country and the percentage increase in frauds from 2002 to 2018.
The 10 countries more at risk of credit card frauds
Ranking Country Fraud value
per 1,000 cards (€)
per 1,000 cards
Fraud value per
per 1,000 inhabitants
Fraud Risk Index
1 Ireland 5,145 57 7,949 88 7.44
2 France 5,521 83 6,716 101 7.36
3 United Kingdom 4,259 50 10,414 123 6.82
4 Denmark 4,555 32 7,274 51 5.3
5 Malta 2,264 19 4,148 34 4.02
6 Sweden 1,896 16 3,615 30 3.83
7 Luxembourg 1,271 9 5,919 40 3.7
8 Spain 1,121 15 2,017 27 3.14
9 Croatia 283 3 581 6 2.46
10 Greece 291 5 427 8 2.44
It is clear that Ireland is the European country most at risk of cybercrime, with a Fraud Risk Index of 7.44 and a fraud value of €7,949 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2018. The search volume for keywords relating to cybercrime is also high, resulting in an average of 2,520 searches per month over the past year, as seen on the table in the end.
France ranks second, with a Fraud Risk Index of 7.36, a fraud value of €6,716 and an average of 101 credit card frauds per 1,000 inhabitants. Google searches for cybercrime words are also relatively high (1,030).
With cash usage in the UK predicted to be 0% by the end of 2026, it’s not unusual to see the UK ranking third amongst the countries most at risk of cybercrimes, with a Fraud Risk Index of 6.82, and the highest fraud value per 1,000 inhabitants (10,414).
The 10 countries less at risk of cybercrime
|Fraud/1000 Cards (2018)||Fraud/1000 Inhabitants (2018)|
|Ranking||Country||Fraud value per 1,000 cards (€)||Fraud volume per 1,000 cards||Fraud value per 1,000 inhabitants (€)||Fraud volume per 1,000 inhabitants||Fraud Risk Index|
Less technologically advanced countries such as Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia rank among the top 5 countries less at risk of credit card frauds, with a Fraud Risk Index of 1.19, 1.22 and 1.36 respectively. Registering only 3 credit card frauds every 1,000 inhabitants in 2018, witha fraud value of €203 per 1,000 inhabitants, Poland is the country with the lowest risk of cybercrime.
Hungary and Lithuania rank second and third respectively, with fraud values of €370 and €409 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Italy and the Netherlands also appear in the ranking, with an average fraud of €1,288 and €2,103 per 1,000 inhabitants respectively.
Google search volume for terms related to cybercrime is quite high in Portugal (750 average searches per month), Italy (530) and Poland (250).
Ireland and Greece are the countries with the highest growth in cybercrime
|Fraud/1000 Inhabitants (2018)|
|Ranking||Country||Fraud value per 1,000 inhabitants (€)||Fraud volume per 1,000 inhabitants||Fraud volume per 1,000 Inhabitants (2002)||% Increase in Frauds 2002 - 2018|
The study also analyses the percentage of growth in frauds between 2002 and 2018. Ireland is still on top of the ranking, showing a percentage increase of 22,522% over those 16 years.
Although France ranks second amongst the countries most at risk of cybercrime, in this ranking is replaced by Greece, which shows an incredibly high percentage increase in frauds of 22,372%.
Luxembourg ranks third, with a fraud value of €5,919 per 1,000 inhabitants, an average of 40 frauds per 1,000 inhabitants and an increase in frauds of 10,344% between 2002 and 2018.
Ian Wright, CEO and founder of Merchant Machine comments:
‘Although using credit cards is generally safer than using cash for money transactions, there are a few precautions card users should be aware of, when using credit cards or managing e-money.’
‘A good way to protect yourself from fraud is to secure all your online and offline data by hiding passwords and shredding documents containing confidential information. Checking your statements is another good way to keep track of each payment and identify any possible scams.’
To conduct this research we created a list of European countries and then we analysed the following metrics related to credit card frauds for each one:
- Value and volume percentages of fraud/Transaction in 2018
- Value and volume of Fraud/1,000 Cards in 2018
- Value and volume of Fraud/1,000 Inhabitants in 2018
- Fraud volume per 1,000 inhabitants in 2002
- Percentage increase in frauds from 2002 to 2018
- Average monthly search volume of words related to cybercrime
After creating an index for each individual value, we combined all these different Indexes into one Final Index, which reveals the level of cybercrime risk in each country.
|Country||Population||Search volume |
for keywords relating
|Search Volume per 100K Capita||Fraud value as a share of transactions with cards 2018 (%)||Fraud volume per transaction 2018 (%)||Fraud value per 1,000 cards 2018 (€)||Fraud volume per 1,000 cards 2018||Fraud value per 1,000 inhabitants 2018 (€)||Fraud volume per 1,000 inhabitants 2018||% Increase in Frauds 2002 - 2018||Final Index|