During Visa’s fiscal fourth quarter credit card purchases grew 10 percent reaching $228 billion. Debit cards brought in more volume, $288 billion, but this was only an 8.1 percent increase for the quarter and marks the first time Visa credit card spending increased more than debit card spending since 2005.
Chase and Wells Fargo had been trialing $3 debit card usage fees in a couple pilot markets but have since decided to discontinue the monthly charge. SunTrust and Regions Banks also eliminated usage fees they were planning to implement on check cards. In early November Bank of America, who was originally going to adopt a $5 monthly fee beginning in 2012, was the last major bank to eliminate the usage fee.
A two year operation by the FBI called Operation Ghost Click has led to the arrest of six hackers who had built a botnet of over four million computers contributing to $14 million in click fraud. The federal indictment names seven suspects who were able to generate a lot of traffic by redirecting their malware victims to the ads or sites that earned the fraudsters revenue.
For several years now fraudsters have been obtaining credit card numbers by hiding skimmers in gas pumps, but a fraud ring from Central Florida took this a step further. Not only did they counterfeit cards skimmed from consumers paying-at-the-pump, but they then used the counterfeit cards to steal large amounts of fuel which they later resold.
The high profile data breaches continue in 2011 as Anonymous posted 1,000 user names and passwords taken from the United Nations. A hacker was able to access the server containing information for the United Nations Development Programme, the attack may have been just to demonstrate ability or to embarrass the UN as many of the posted passwords were weak. Anonymous is also threatening attacks against major financial institutions with their new ally, TeamPoison, in a hactivism effort they are calling Operation Robin Hood.
On November 28th the credit reporting bureau and global information services company Experian agreed to acquire the identity verification and fraud screening company 192business for an undisclosed price. The acquisition is still subject to approval by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading.
192business is the leading identity verification provider in the UK with more 1,000 organizations using their ID verification services. Experian offers identity authentication, knowledge bases assessments and other identity and fraud prevention services. Experian stated that this acquisition will form part of their Decision Analytics business line and they will expand their range of identity verification and fraud prevention services.
After breaching the systems of a digital certificate authority a fraudster made their phishing and pharming web pages suddenly seem legitimate. Consumers rely on trust marks and digital security certificates to let them know a website is secure enough to handle their payment card account numbers and other sensitive information. But when fraudsters can make their fake sites seem legitimate by forging these digital certificates it reduces the trust and confidence consumers have in digital security certificates and the internet commerce overall.
According to an estimate by Javelin Strategy & Research the Durbin Amendment will eliminate $6.6 billion in annual revenue for affected financial institutions. But banks don’t plan on just letting this money go, instead they are finding ways to regain these revenues and steer consumers to more profitable payment forms. Consumers are already starting to see fees for debit card use, increased costs for checking accounts, debit card transaction limits and increased ATM fees while debit card reward programs quickly disappear.