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Simon Marshall
Simon Marshall
Simon Marshall

Debit Card Fraud Numbers Explode

Technology is making it easier than ever for thieves and scammers to steal debit card numbers – and the bank accounts they access.

You have to stop and fill up at a regular-looking gas station. You pay. All is well. You head down the road. Sometime later, you get your statement. You’ve been skimmed by the clerk and your card is minus $250, plus, ironically, the price of the gas too. Bank balances and trust were abused.

This happens all the time in the US at merchants and also ATMs and Points Of Sale (POS). Cards are skimmed and cloned. Tiny cameras watch you withdrawing cash from your bank account. On the other side of the lens is a greedy crook looking for an easy score. If you're insured, you may get the money back, but that's not the point. It's inconvenient. Moreover, you're worried that you've been exposed to fraud. You start to think where else you might be exposed. The length of the list troubles you.

Inevitably, this type of fraud is growing, but more quickly than you might imagine. Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) has just released a survey that shows a 39% year-on-year increase in compromised debit cards in the US during the first six months of 2017. Compromises of ATM and POS devices grew by 21%. FICO predicts that 2017 will be the worst year on record for fraud. Last year, the number of compromised cards rose by a whopping 70%.

Fair Isaac is one of the original US data analytics and credit scoring firms, founded in 1956. But, it's trying to keep up with the times: it has now deployed the use of predictive analytics and data science in the fight against the next generation of fraudsters.

"The rate of fraud pattern change has accelerated in the last 24 months, requiring us to continuously adapt our predictive analytics to stay on top of this criminal behavior," said TJ Horan, vice president of FICO's fraud solutions. "We have introduced new AI technology into our FICO Falcon Fraud Manager platform, which protects most of the payment cards in the US."

FICO has some advice for consumers. People pay attention when FICO makes a pronouncement, because it is a big company. In 2013, lenders purchased more than 10 billion FICO scores and about 30 million American consumers accessed their own credit score.

Here in a nutshell is what it has to say:

  • If an ATM looks fishy, your card doesn't smoothly enter the machine or you exit your car for a quick chat while using an ATM, you may have been compromised. A good example is where your card is held by the machine; you cannot assume it's a benevolent action by your bank. There's a chance that a scammer rigged the ATM and will return later to extract your card
  • Always get a new card number if your previous card was compromised, not simply a replacement card
  • Make use of apps to check your balance immediately, use bank fraud alert monitoring services, make sure they have your current phone number. FICO did not immediately reply to a request for more information.

— Simon Marshall, Technology Journalist, special to Security Now

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