ASATA column: Sign Your Card!


ASATA has embarked on a fraud awareness campaign, alerting its members to the mechanics behind fraudulent transactions. Fraudsters will always target those merchants who sell high-value ticket items that can easily be resold in illicit markets. The source of these deals is often the purchase of an airline ticket using a cloned bank card in a travel agency. The ticket is then resold for a lesser value to obtain cash, or is used in the transporting of a drug mule. 

In this process a number of false documents are presented, including passports and bank cards, and the onus is on the travel agent to make the necessary checks. Increasingly, we are seeing that the travel agents used are targeted, and trusting relationships are nurtured before the ‘hits’ are made.

It’s the merchant’s responsibility to ensure that all the checks and balances are in place when accepting a card transaction. This is to protect themselves, the bank and ultimately the customer. However, we have seen far too often how vulnerable ASATA members are in this chain. The drive by customers to earn frequent flyer points has resulted in the card not always being present at the time of transaction. This card number may be cloned by a fraudster within the supply chain, and ultimately, when the fraudulent transaction is queried by the cardholder some 30 days later, the travel agent has no proof of the card ever being present at the time of transaction. Essentially, each time a personal or corporate card is used, the merchant should sight both the card and the cardholder to ensure that they do not compromise the bank or themselves. 

There is also the perception by cardholders that if they sign the back of their card, their signature will be copied. Well, by not signing the back of your card, you are essentially giving the thief the equivalent of a blank cheque! If your card is stolen and subsequently used and you query the transaction, the bank will revert to the merchant to ensure that they made the necessary checks. Inevitably, the card is recovered and if your signature does not match that of the one on the back of the card, you will be liable. The bank will deem that you have compromised the security on your card and expect you to cough-up.

Robyn Christie


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