A little over one month ago, eighteen individuals were charged with orchestrating one of the nation’s largest credit card fraud rings. Capturing global headlines, the international scam banked $200 million for the fraudsters who used 7,000 fake identities to obtain at least 25,000 credit cards.
“The accused availed themselves of a virtual cafeteria of sophisticated frauds and schemes, whose main menu items were greed and deceit,” explained David Velazquez, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark, New Jersey field office.
Despite the enormity of this particular crime, consumers, financial institutions, and merchants of all sizes have grown used to the sobering threats they now face on a daily basis. But in response to the major security breakdowns that enabled the most recent global fraud to transpire, consumers and the companies they trust are emboldened like never before to prevent these and similar incidents from repeating.
Consumers are, unquestionably, becoming well-aware of the basic steps they can take to mitigate their risk of falling victim to identity theft or credit card fraud. But what about the large-scale threats that target the global payment chain?
In the wake of such sophisticated international schemes, pressure has mounted on financial institutions and related organizations to band together and hold the industry at large to a higher standard. It’s a challenge that some prominent merchant services providers are promptly answering.
As a key illustration, the PCI Security Standards Council reports an influx of merchants looking to become participating organizations that support and stand behind robust PCI Security Standards.
Endorsed by American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc., the PCI Security Standards require merchants and service providers that store, process or transmit customer payment card data to adhere to information security controls and processes that ensure data protection.
In recent weeks, payment solutions provider North American Bancard (NAB) joined the PCI Security Standards Council in a move that was widely lauded as a proactive effort deserving of emulation.
NAB says it has always been an advocate for high level security standards that protect both businesses and consumers alike.
“In an era of increasingly sophisticated attacks on systems, adhering to the PCI DSS represents an entity’s best protection against network security threats and data breaches,” said Bob Russo, General Manager of the PCI Security Standards Council. “By joining as a Participating Organization, North American Bancard demonstrates they are playing an active part in mitigating the threats and improving the security of the payment chain globally by driving the security standards to higher levels of adoption and strength.”
Unfortunately, the $200 million global credit fraud uncovered this year may not be the last large-scale financial theft perpetrated against individuals and organizations. But perhaps the new safeguards in place and the improved cohesion of players adhering to them will dramatically curb and eventually eliminate these cataclysmic financial crimes of the modern era.