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Payment instrument fraud prevention

  1. The Central Means of Payment Antifraud Office (UCAMP) was set up at the Department of the Treasury, on the basis of the Ministerial Decree of 5 July 2012 of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. UCAMP is part of Directorate V - "Prevention of the use of the financial system for illegal purposes" and is charged with carrying out monitoring of counterfeiting of the euro, preventing fraudulent use of payment instruments and instruments designated for the disbursement of consumer credit, and carrying out specialised training activity at a national and international level in the areas of its responsibility. With the entry into effect of Law no. 166/2005 of 17 August 2005 (containing provisions for the "Institution of a system of payment card fraud prevention"), UCAMP acquired a key administrative role in the prevention of fraud within the sector. Later, Implementation Regulations no. 112/2007 precisely defined UCAMP's organisation and responsibilities. As provided by law, UCAMP makes use of qualified personnel of the tax police (Guardia di Finanza), who functionally report to UCAMP's Director.
     
  2. With reference to the EU system for the PROTECTION OF THE EURO FROM COUNTERFEITING, set up with the European Council EU Regulation no. 1338/2001, as amended by European Council EU Regulation no. 44/2009, UCAMP is the national authority responsible for gathering and exchanging data that allow for both identifying counterfeited banknotes and coins through the technical description of the counterfeiting type, and effecting strategic analysis of the issue of counterfeiting. From this perspective, UCAMP participates in the works of the “Euro Counterfeiting Experts Group/ECEG” steering committee chaired by the European Commission/OLAF. The monitoring activity carried out covers all of the euro currency identified in the national territory and withdrawn from circulation by the parties managing cash pursuant to the Italian laws and regulations of reference (Decree-Law no. 350/2001) (banks, post offices, companies that safekeep and transport money, etc.), or seized by the law enforcement authorities (the Carabinieri, the tax police, and State police). Through the strategic analysis of the information received, UCAMP is capable of evaluating the impact of the issue on the economic and financial system.

    UCAMP manages a special data archive, provides technical assistance, and cooperates with other law enforcement authorities. All of the information has been centralised so as to improve prevention and to facilitate broad-based analysis and surveys. Instead, the responsibility for suppressing counterfeiting is vested with the Italian Central Office of Currency Counterfeiting (UCIFM), an office made up of various branches of the law enforcement authorities (Carabinieri, the tax police and State police) which acts within the framework of the Police International Cooperation Service at the Interior Ministry. Though operating with distinct and separate missions, the UCIFM and UCAMP interact with one another in order to ensure the most efficient and integrated system possible for protecting the euro from counterfeiting, in line with the underlying EU principles.
     
  3. With respect to PAYMENT CARD FRAUD, UCAMP has implemented a strategy based on two key aspects:
    • A digital archive (SIPAF) that allows issuer companies and the managers of commercial networks accepting payment cards to consult and to share, on a real-time basis, data and information regarding suspect commercial establishments and business dealings with transactions are at risk or are not properly consummated;
    • A permanent forum known as the Interdisciplinary Work Group for the Administrative Prevention of Payment Card Fraud (GIPAF), with the ongoing contribution of leading experts from the public and private sectors; the forum has both steering and analytical functions.
    The prevention system is accordingly aimed at protecting issuer banks and indirectly, the members of the public who place their faith in payment instruments that take the place of cash. In final analysis, the system is aimed at fighting and curtailing the insidious phenomenon of scams, including those perpetrated online.
     
  4. Turning to the prevention of CONSUMER CREDIT FRAUD, policymakers are developing a strategy that is based on a synergic approach and aimed at inaugurating and cultivating an effective working relationship between the public and private sectors. Credit fraud is growing at a troublesome pace, including in Italy, and the prevention initiatives are today not sufficient to tackle the various ways in which the different types of criminal action are manifested. In this framework, for example, UCAMP has identified opportunities for promoting concrete initiatives during the GIPAF meetings, looking for synergies (including in relation to projects under consideration and in the start-up phase) with trade associations designated by the National Consumers and Users Council (CNCU).
     
  5. In TRAINING, UCAMP promotes activities at a national and EU level, with comprehensive coverage of all of the areas for which it is responsible.

    At the international level, UCAMP is among the most active national authorities in Europe to capture the opportunities (including in terms of EU financing) offered by the EU Pericles programme operated by the European Commission/OLAF for exchanges, training, and assistance in combating euro counterfeiting. Launched in 2001, Pericles has become the framework of reference for the sector, and UCAMP has significantly contributed to its success, including through proposing and executing specific projects (including in the recent past, in Italy (2009), Libya (2010), Turkey (2011), Croatia (2012) and Morocco (2013). These activities are expected to continue in the near future, particularly in the Mediterranean and Balkan areas, which have been identified as priority areas by the Electronic Crime Expert Group (ECEG).

    At the national level, UCAMP organizes training days for promoting its euro and card databanks with respect to representatives of government institutions and entities that are part of the respective systems. In addition, at the local level, UCAMP teams up with local government and universities to organize seminars and workshops addressed to all stakeholders involved in the issue of currency counterfeiting, including the public at large.

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