By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Clearing Banks Association (CBA) said yesterday it has seen increased trends of debit card fraud and ABM skimming, with credit card fraud an “ongoing challenge”.
In a statement directed to Tribune Business following inquiries on the issue, new CBA head and Scotiabank’s managing director, Sean Albert, said: “The Clearing Banks Association of the Bahamas (CBA) wishes to remind credit and debit card holders of the importance of safety and privacy in managing their bank accounts.
“While CBA members have not seen an increase in credit card fraud, we acknowledge it as an ongoing challenge. Our banks have zero tolerance for fraud. When there is even the slightest indication of a threat to our customers’ accounts we respond immediately and take appropriate action.
“We each have our own fraud detection processes and other security features in place to monitor transactions and highlight questionable or unusual account activities. We advise all customers that one of the most important things they can do to protect themselves is to review their account balances and activity on a regular basis using Internet banking, monthly account statements, branch visits and any other facilities provided by their bank in this regard,” Mr Albert added.
“Report any irregularities immediately. It is also recommended that traveling customers advise their bank of travel plans. This is to avoid the inconvenience of possible fraud prevention blocks on their cards by Visa or MasterCard monitoring teams when suspicious or unusual overseas transactions are detected.”
The US Embassy this week released a warning alerting US citizens to recent incidents of credit card fraud in Nassau. The US Embassy memo read: “US citizens have reported that they have received fraudulent credit card charges on their credit cards and that their respective credit card companies notified them of attempted fraud-related charges on their accounts after using their card at various businesses in Nassau.”
It continued: “The Embassy urges all US citizens to check their credit and debit card accounts for any unusual activity. If you suspect fraudulent activity, contact your bank immediately to close the compromised credit card account and place a fraud investigation with your credit card company.”
Acknowledging that banks have seen a trend towards debit card fraud and ABM skimming, Mr Albert said: “To prevent debit card fraud, customers should never disclose their PIN to another person and always shield the key pad when typing their PIN.
“If customers receive unsolicited e-mails and phone calls asking for personal information and are not sure of the source, they should be wary and verify the authenticity of any request as it may be a scam intended to solicit confidential information relative to their personal accounts.
“Customers should contact their bank immediately if they are concerned about fraud or suspect any fraud. The CBA remains committed to working together for the protection and safety of our customers and the industry.”
Commenting on the credit card fraud issue, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s president, Stuart Bowe, said: “The BHTA recognises that the majority of our visitor spending is facilitated by credit card purchases. Credit card fraud is an international issue faced by card issuers, card holders, merchant banks and the credit card companies themselves.
“Millions of dollars are spent worldwide on preventing and responding to credit card fraud. The BHTA is engaged in communication with members, private and public sector representatives; including the Clearing Banks’ Association Fraud Committee.”
Last week, Inspector Debrah Thompson said that the 16 cases of credit card fraud had been reported to police up to June this year, with a total value of $99,205.99 - nearly triple the losses from the seven cases reported during the same time last year.
Ms Thompson, head of the CDU’s Business and Technology Crimes, said the matters were part of a larger ring, adding that police have charged 16 persons with fraud this year.