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Card fraudsters going back to the real world

There was an interesting feature on the Emirates businesswire last night about the recent spate of credit and debit card frauds in the region and how - it seems - card fraudsters are stepping back from the online world and back to the bricks and mortar arena when it comes to extracting card data.

The newswire quoted Nidal Taha, regional director for the Middle East and Turkey at Blue Coat Systems as saying the latest card frauds were not really hacking, but more physical fraud.

It is, he said, more of a physical fraud by persons or groups who obtained credit cards, ATM cards and their data, and used them to steal money from people's bank accounts or make purchases in their names.

"This has been noticed as a worldwide practice a long time ago. When you go shopping here in Dubai, or anywhere else, you might see the salesperson take your credit card and disappear for a couple of minutes when you are paying at the counter. That is why the cardholder should be more cautious about how he uses his card," he explained.

According to Taha, many expatriates are used to their own countries, which are safe, and similarly trust all the cashiers and service people in the Middle East.

But, he added, when a card holder suspects any kind of fraud or misuse by others, s/he should be more aware of the threats.

Taha noted that, whilst nothing is 100 per cent safe. "But I would say the on-line security services are about 95 per cent safe," he said.

That's pretty revealing stuff from a card fraud specialist. It seems the fraudsters are being beaten by the card companies' online security systems - at long last.

Mind you, with the Chip & SPIN system used in real world retail outlets being about as secure as a lettuce leaf, that's hardly surprising.

But that's another story entirely...