QATAR: Banks raise vigil against card fraud

Local banks have raised vigil following the recent  $45mn global bank cyber-heist, although customers in Qatar were not affected by the criminal operation of a gang, which withdrew money from cash machines in some 27 countries.

Many local banks contacted by Gulf Times yesterday said the “already high level of card security” would be strengthened to “maximum limit” to ensure cyber criminals would not be able to hack into the system.

This is particularly relevant because thousands of residents are planning vacation abroad during summer months, a period which has historically seen higher card transactions.

In Qatar, Qatar Central bank (QCB) has facilitated a very efficient system to ensure card safety and foolproof electronic transactions across the nation-wide network of banks.

Like in other advanced and emerging countries, electronic transactions have become quite popular in Qatar with people preferring “plastic over hard currency” for settling goods and service purchase.

“Cash machines have been trained to capture cards under suspi-
cious circumstances”, said a banker.

“In a normal situation, cards captured by cash machines will be made invalid and destroyed,” he said.

A replacement card is charged the permissible QR50,” the banker said citing QCB rules and regulations on this.

Customers must immediately notify the bank concerned if their cards are either lost or stolen. The police must also be alerted quickly.

If a customer recovers the lost or stolen card, he must immediately cut it in half, and ideally, return it to the bank concerned. In other words, customers should not attempt to use recovered cards, either lost or stolen.

A senior executive with an Islamic bank yesterday said that while the banks would ensure that all card-based transactions are safe, customers must exercise all possible care for their card safety.

“Under no circumstances should a user reveal the personal identification number (PIN) to another person. Also, customers must not disclose their card number (embossed on the credit or debit card) to a third party,” he said.

Recently, the US authorities arrested some eight people in connection with the global bank heist, which is said to have involved thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic swipe cards.

Reports said a criminal gang had stolen a total of $45mn from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from cash machines in 27 countries. The two targeted Gulf banks were RAK Bank (United Arab Emirates) and Bank Muscat (Oman).

Firm admits security was breached

An Indian payment card processing company acknowledged yesterday that hackers breached its security to increase the limits on some pre-paid card accounts in a global ATM heist in December. ElectraCard Services, however, said no customer data was stolen from it and any tampering of ATM cards occurred elsewhere. “To withdraw money from a pre-paid card, one needs an ATM card that has a magnetic strip, which has encoded data. You also need a PIN. The forensic report says that this data and PIN was not compromised at the ElectraCard data centre,” said Ramesh Mengawade, chief executive officer of ElectraCard Services.

Source: Caye Global News, Gulf Times

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