Payments Report 2022

Are payments in Sweden safe?

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Counterfeiting and fraud

Published: 15 December 2022

Swedish banknotes are difficult to counterfeit

Sweden has secure banknotes with security features that are very difficult to counterfeit without detection. Despite this, the number of counterfeit banknotes found was high in 2020 and then fell in 2021. The counterfeits found are very simple copies and it is almost exclusively 500-krona banknotes that are counterfeited.

When few people use cash, the risk of counterfeit notes increases

With fewer people using cash regularly, knowledge of what a genuine banknote looks like is declining and the risk of counterfeit banknotes circulating in society is increasing.

A genuine banknote is easy to distinguish if you are aware of the security features. When checking a banknote, several security features should be examined in combination: the security strip, the colour-shifting image, the watermark, the intaglio printing, the see-through picture, the security thread and the microtexts.

Card fraud remains at low levels

Card fraud most often occurs when the card is read during payment or when it is inserted into an ATM. Compared to other countries in Europe, the number of card frauds in Sweden is relatively low. In addition, the number of reported cases of card fraud has fallen in recent years. One explanation for this is that, since 1 January 2021, Sweden has been applying the EU regulations on requirements for strong customer authentication. This means that a customer must be able to identify themselves with at least two of the following elements when making digital payments or logging into payment accounts:

  • knowledge (something that only the user knows, such as a password or PIN)
  • possession (something that only the user possesses, such as a card
    or a phone)
  • inherence (something that is unique to the user, such as a fingerprint).

The requirement for strong customer authentication applies regardless of whether a card is swiped, a chip is used or a contactless payment is made. However, in certain cases, such as low value payments, an exemption may be made to the requirement for strong customer authentication.

Fraud in online purchases against invoice

In 2022, the government proposed legislative changes to increase consumer protection in e-commerce. Among other things, the proposal clarifies that the requirement for strong customer authentication also applies to online invoice payments. This payment method has become more common in recent years and is often marketed as ‘buy now, pay later’. Every year, around 11,000–15,000 cases of identity fraud are reported in e-commerce. Under the new proposal, consumers will have to prove their identity, for example with a physical security device or e-identification, when making a purchase against invoice online. This could further reduce the risk of fraud.

BankID fraud

As use rises of Swish, BankID and others, they are also being exploited as tools to commit fraud. Both services are used in combination with online banking to access victims’ money. To reduce the risk of fraud, it is important not to share login details or passwords.

Swish fraud against companies

A new form of fraud against companies emerged in spring 2022. A customer showed a website to a company’s cashiers with a false confirmation of a sent Swish payment. This form of fraud began to spread in the spring and subsequently some traders stopped accepting Swish payments for purchases in physical stores to prevent the fraud. To protect themselves against Swish fraud, Swish and the Swedish Trade Federation recommend that businesses use the Swish business app, which can be used to verify incoming payments, or Swish Commerce, which can be integrated into the store’s point-of-sale system.

Fraudsters selling fake e-kronas

The Riksbank is investigating the possibility of issuing a digital complement to cash, known as the e-krona (see The Riksbank is making preparations for a possible e-krona). No decision has yet been taken on a launch and it is therefore not possible to buy, sell or pay using the e-krona. Nevertheless, there have been attempts at fraud in which fraudsters try to sell the “newly launched” e-krona through advertisements on social media and news sites. The Riksbank has been involved and has taken various actions when fraud linked to the e-krona has come to light.