The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, law enforcers and bankers are scrambling to find ways to prevent fraudulent activities involving access devices to credit cards as the police warned of a crime syndicate possibly operating in Dumaguete City.
Dumaguete police chief, Supt. Jovito Atanacio, said there are fraudsters using access cards believed to be in the capital city of Negros Oriental, although he declined to give specific details.
He disclosed, however, that this is an organized crime syndicate that has a wide reach, from outside of Dumaguete, and targets unknowing establishments that could not detect a fraudulent transaction.
The police is still trying to determine how to address this problem, Atanacio said.
The cards would be usually credit, debit or automated teller machine cards, and even rewards cards. Some could be cloned and fake, or authentic but lost, stolen or deactivated/non-existent.
An access device, as defined by Republic Act 8484, means “any card, plate, code, account number, electronic serial number, personal identification number, or other telecommunications service, equipment, or instrumental identifier, or other means of account access that can be used to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value or to initiate a transfer of funds (other than a transfer originated solely by paper instrument”.
Atanacio's disclosure came on the heels of the arrest recently of 12 males from Metro Manila for alleged fraud, victimizing a number of business establishments in Dumaguete with the use of access devices.
During a meeting Friday with the Negros Oriental Bankers Club Inc., headed by its president Elmer Teves, the BSP-Negros Oriental, headed by Nicasio Parco, and Atanacio, the group admitted that credit card theft and similarly-natured fraudulent activities could not be entirely stopped.
This is due to highly advanced technology which fraudsters are using with a number of loopholes that have yet to be addressed, said Teves, the manager of East West Bank here.
While stop-gap measures are being undertaken by the banks, there is yet no tangible means of preventing credit/debit card theft or ATM skimming, among others, he said.
Teves said some of the ways to minimize risks of falling prey to access device fraudsters are to have the people swap their cards from the magnetic stripe type to the EMV or chip-enabled kind; tell cashiers to be judicious in accepting and transacting with the use of these cards; and to instruct security guards to closely monitor the offsite ATMs.
Seminars/training on how to detect frauds and scams are also being eyed by the NORBAC and the Bangko Sentral as a means to help prevent or minimize theft.
Atanacio said the problem is a big challenge for them as a fraudulent transaction could be discovered later when the issuing bank or company of the access device reports it.
During the arrest of the 12 suspects, law enforcers confiscated access devices such as credit cards and reward cards which they allegedly used in their transactions.
Some of the cards, however, successfully transacted with the merchants or those manning the swipe machines, also known as Point of Sale terminals.
The syndicated group members were denied bail and are now behind bars at the city jail after they were formally charged in court, Atanacio said.
He briefed the bankers and BSP officials on the current situation in Dumaguete, adding the Philippine National Police has organized Task Force DUVASIBA, an acronym for Dumaguete, Valencia, Sibulan, and Bacong, which are adjacent areas forming the so-called Metro Dumaguete.
On the part of the PNP, Atanacio said they are relying on the support of the banks and not “limit information on the part of investigation” so the police can continue with their anti-criminality efforts.
The bankers' association, the police, and BSP reminded the public to be wary and report immediately to the police any suspicious transactions on their access cards.
Meanwhile, Greg Bacay of the local BSP said that banks have until Sept. 30 to issue EMV cards to their clients, otherwise, they will be held responsible for fraud loses, such as through ATM skimming.*JFP/PNA
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