Card Fraud & Consumers in the Dark


One of the challenges of credit card fraud is a direct result of one fact: the one party most affected by fraud and best prepared to detect fraud, the customer, more often than not, cannot find where (or how) his or her credit card number was stolen. Without this knowledge it is simply impossible for a customer, even if savvy or technologically informed, to avoid further fraud.

While Visa and MasterCard can trace a group of stolen card numbers to a given merchant, this information is usually kept confidential and is not shared with customers, or even with issuing banks, unless the breach is so massive that it bursts into the media sphere. Yet in most cases customers cannot move their business elsewhere nor can banks pressure merchants into increasing security (thought the card associations will approach the compromised merchant).

Much of the problems behind stolen credit cards arise because the proper incentives, and information, needed to create vigilance and to implement effective countermeasures are missing. In general, it is unlikely that most customers will use credit cards less if notified whenever a breach occurs, along with the name the breached merchant (if known). On the contrary, confidence on credit cards might increase, and card associations, banks, and merchants would likely begin working together by sharing information and proactively implementing countermeasures and best practices –something that does not happen now.

Feature Image, Courtesy of Pixomar,

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