Omaha World Herald - online, Ross Boettcher
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Imagine a group of 10 people. Say, your husband or wife, mother, father, boss, a work colleague, a neighbor, your mail carrier, a longtime friend, your barista and your doctor.
Out of that group, credit or debit card fraud has struck three of those people in the past five years, according to a global survey conducted by ACI Worldwide, a financial payment software company with operations in Omaha.
Over the past half-decade, credit card fraud has struck about 30 percent of all people in eight of the world's “major” economies, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, China, Dubai, Germany, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
The findings show that as the domestic economy and much of the global economy was shrouded by financial turmoil, fraudsters were in high gear, ripping-off cardholders — many of whom didn't follow basic precautions to protect themselves from fraud.
When the survey was last released 18 months ago in 2009, just 18 percent of consumers in those “major” economies had been slapped by card fraud. In the United States, that figure was 27 percent, five percentage points lower than in the recent survey.
The survey's findings weren't surprising not only because of the economic climate, said Jasbir Anand, an analyst for ACI, but also because of the number of “mass compromise events” — instances where financial institutions or payment processors had their security breached, leaking millions of card numbers and other critical information.
“Events like that had a very big impact,” Anand said.
One piece of survey data that shocked Anand was how little care respondents took to protect their sensitive financial information. About 12 percent of all respondents around the globe said they carried a note with their debit card PIN with them at all times. In the United States, 8 percent toted their PIN in their wallet or purse.
“That sort of gave me pause, because people are showing concern, but their prevention measures are very lax,” Anand said.
An average of 28 percent of respondents said they threw away bank statements or receipts without shredding them. Also, 16 percent said they accessed their bank account online on a public computer or without security software, and 7 percent responded to e-mails or phone calls asking for bank information.
All of those situations, Anand said, expose consumers to fraud and identity theft.
Jim Hegarty, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau office covering the Midlands, called the lack of caution exposed in the survey “unfortunate.”
“Consumers who have been deeply impacted by the worldwide economic downturn are likely to take additional risk regarding economic opportunities, especially online,” Hegarty said. “Many of these opportunities or offers are simply mechanisms for phishing for the victims' information.”
The ACI survey also found that Americans, compared with consumers in other countries, were less worried about a “financial wipeout” from card fraud and were more concerned about reclaiming their financial identity. Consumers in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany were most afraid of losing all of their money and being left unable to pay their bills.
Overall, 79 percent of fraud victims were satisfied with the response they got from their bank when their card info was stolen. That's up from 75 percent in 2009.
Globally, how quickly lost money is refunded is more important for customer service than the ability of financial institutions to identify fraud before the customer. In the United States, however, those two are flipped. About 40 percent of Americans said they don't want to be the ones finding out about the fraud first.