‘twas the season for holiday debit and credit card fraud. The numbers are still preliminary, but it looks like fraud was slightly on the rise during the 2012-13 holidays.
That isn’t surprising, given that new technology in the form of EMV chip-and-PIN cards is on the horizon. Today, fraudsters can still make good use of their existing expertise in counterfeiting magnetic stripe cards, and they’re going to make hay while the sun shines. On the other hand, ever-more-sophisticated fraud detection programs have prevented crooks from running rampant.
What can credit unions do to help their members deal with card fraud? Here are 10 tips and strategies to take into the new year:
1. Get real-time decisioning if you don’t already have it. That goes for PIN as well as signature transactions. The way card fraud works these days, issuers don’t have time to stop and investigate incidents: They have to halt fraud in its tracks. Although PIN transactions haven’t always carried the same urgency as signature credit and debit, the results can be even more devastating when fraud occurs on a checking account as a result of ATM withdrawals. If a debit card is the only card your member holds, the disruption can be especially tough.
2. Update and upgrade your lines of communication. It sounds simple, but make sure the contact information you have on file for your cardholders is current. If you do come across a suspicious transaction, you don’t want to call the landline they canceled two years ago for verification.
3. Along the same lines, sign them up for text and email alerts. The more ways you can reach out, the more effective you can be.
4. Be proactive about educating your members. Most people have misconceptions about card fraud. They may think they’ve been careless with their physical card, or that they’ve been counterfeited because they failed to shred their bills. Many worry that online transactions are categorically unsafe. They may believe you’ve been reckless with their card data, or have otherwise failed to protect their information. Most card fraud today happens without any negligence on the part of the cardholder or card issuer. Let members know – preferably before fraud strikes, and certainly after – that they (and you) are not to blame.
5. Craft an excellent process for dealing with members whose cards have been compromised. Make sure they know:
- You have processes in place to detect fraud and stop it.
- You’re in their corner and will help them rectify their accounts.
- You’re concerned about any problems that might arise from having to close their card accounts and will do your best to assist them.
6. Make sure your debit card isn’t your members’ only access to money. Members sometimes resist ordering paper checks when they open a checking account. Encourage them to place even a small order: The checks will come in handy if their card is ever disabled. If they don’t have a credit card with you, this is a good reason to encourage them to get one. Even if they don’t use it as a revolving loan, they may appreciate the backup in an emergency.
7. Encourage members to monitor their accounts. If they aren’t using online banking to watch their debit transactions, they should be. The same goes for tracking credit accounts online. Even when your fraud detection picks up suspicious transactions before your members do, online banking is the easiest way for them to check legitimate activity against fraud. Also, be sure they know that small, unfamiliar charges are a red flag. These often go unreported because cardholders think they’re “no big deal” and not worth a phone call to customer service. In reality, they’re test charges that open the gates to larger fraud.
8. Put daily spending limits on your debit cards, and then make sure your members know how to work around them appropriately if need be. You don’t want to make it impossible for cardholders to use their debit cards for large transactions, but you also want a mechanism in place to stop fraud before it goes too far.
9. Consider adding instant-issue cards to your list of services. You want your members to feel attached to their cards. Reward them with the option of picking up a new card at the branch instead of waiting for a replacement by mail.
10. Stay positive. While nobody enjoys being defrauded, it’s important to remain positive – and help members stay confident – when fraud occurs. Feeling violated is a natural response to having your card account compromised, so make sure members aren’t feeling apprehensive about using their cards (or even maintaining their accounts) when everything is said and done. Fraudsters may be getting better and better at committing their crimes, but we are also getting better at detecting, halting and dealing with the aftereffects. Members have every reason to feel positive about using their cards.