ValidSoft Limited, a subsidiary of Elephant Talk Communications, is warning consumers that from 17 January Belgian Maestro users may be unable to use their debit card when travelling abroad. According to press report quoting the Minister of Economic Affaires, Vincent Van Quickenborne, the measure has been taken in an effort to prevent fraud resulting from card skimming which has risen over 750% in the past three years.
Fraudsters are easily able to copy the magnetic strip of a debit or credit card, and there have been high profile news reports of data thefts around the world where fraudsters have got hold of large numbers of card details and PINs. Fraudsters then use these fake cards to pay for goods or services or get cash from ATMs.
The report states that the measure being introduced means that Belgian debit cards will now only be accepted in 56 countries within and around Europe that use Chip and PIN enhanced security, but not in the US, Canada and China, to list some examples of exclusions. According to Spaargids.be, approximately 12 million Maestro users in Belgium could be impacted by the measure, which has the potential to cause significant headaches for Belgian consumers and the 22 issuing banks that are introducing the measure.
“Belgian banks are clearly very worried about the rapid rise in card fraud,” said Bennie Peleman, vice president, ValidSoft. “Fraud creates major headaches for banks; they generally have to foot the bill for fraud and call centres are overwhelmed with ‘false positives’ from customers who have had cards blocked when they are on holiday or travelling for business.
“We are actively targeting the Belgian market with our flagship card fraud prevention solution, VALid-POS,” said Peleman. “Card fraud has become a global concern recognised by leading banks worldwide. The measures taken in Belgium, although perhaps drastic, are understandable and definitely reflect a primary objective in protecting their customers’ interest. It is our objective to contribute in restoring the confidence in both card present and card-not-present transactions into the financial services markets worldwide.”
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