MasterCard Tackles Phishing Scammers

From the press release:

MasterCard International and NameProtect today announced they are working together to aggressively combat illegal online activities such as “phishing” identity theft schemes and the brokering of illegally obtained payment card numbers in the online environment.

The partnership represents a fundamental shift in the way the financial services industry is dealing with the rising tide of payment fraud.

Rather than simply reacting to online fraud and identity theft after it has occurred, MasterCard and NameProtect will take a more aggressive approach to the wave of cyber scams attacking online consumers and companies today. Under the partnership, MasterCard will leverage NameProtect’s technology to detect online scams in real-time as they proliferate across the Internet. Working in cooperation with law enforcement, the partnership will seek to dismantle the online tools and venues that are used by identity thieves before they can be used to steal personal information from unsuspecting consumers and help ensure that cyber criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“We are confronting identity theft head-on by taking the fight directly to where payment card scams breed and spread,” said Sergio Piñòn, senior vice president, MasterCard Global Security & Risk Services. “By identifying these illegal card number-swapping rings and working to close down these online ‘payment card black markets,’ as well as sites that are established solely to steal personal information, we can squash illegal activity before people’s accounts are compromised.”

NameProtect also will help protect MasterCard’s own identity from being stolen by seeking out fraudsters attempting to spoof MasterCard’s logo and other branding insignia to use for phishing attacks.

The first-of-its-kind partnership comes at a time when identity theft and other forms of card fraud are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission has reported that identity theft has been the No. 1 consumer complaint for four consecutive years.

Phishing attacks, which use fraudulent e-mails and Web sites to lure consumers into divulging personal financial information, also have increased significantly. According to the most recent data from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, of which both MasterCard and NameProtect are members, there were 1,125 unique attacks in April – a 180 percent increase over March.

Many times, these scams and other forms of fraud are perpetuated by criminals buying and selling card numbers and other personal information via hidden online forums.

As part of the arrangement, NameProtect will use its industry-leading Internet detection technology and systems to continuously monitor domain names, web pages, online discussions spam e-mail, and other online formats to identify online trading rings, Phishing attacks, and other forms of online fraud the moment each attack is launched online. NameProtect then provides real-time exclusive reports back to MasterCard.

MasterCard in turn will be able to report illegal Web sites and other illegal online forums to the proper authorities, such as the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Service, and Interpol, for appropriate action. Through its MC Alerts service, MasterCard also can provide this information immediately to its nearly 25,000 member financial institutions, which can use it to protect themselves and their millions of cardholders from having card accounts compromised.

“The MasterCard initiative is compelling in its scope and reach”, said Mark McLane, NameProtect Inc. Chief Executive Officer. “The financial services industry and their customers are the subject of growing and increasingly sophisticated attacks online. This partnership creates a platform to attack the source of Internet-based fraud.

“The integration of the existing MC fraud alert system, leveraging global law enforcement, and the use of NameProtect industry-leading technology takes the commitment to battle identity theft and card fraud to a new level. We are extremely pleased to be helping MasterCard provide this best in class solution to the accelerating problem of Internet-based identity theft and payment card fraud. MasterCard’s leadership in combating this critical threat will help to protect not only its own customers, but will help ensure that these attacks do not erode the consumer confidence that is critical to health of the Internet as we know it today.”

Consumers can take proactive steps to thwart identity theft, such as:

• Regularly obtaining personal credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies and carefully reviewing the information. Question – and correct – any inaccuracies.
• Try to avoid providing their mother’s maiden name as a security feature. In many cases, identity thieves can find this information with little difficulty. Instead, consumers should substitute a name of personal significance, such as a grandmother’s maiden name, a friend or family member’s nickname, or a favorite author’s name.
• Assigning a separate password for each account requiring one. This step can help limit the amount of damage a criminal can do.
• Shredding documents that contain important personal information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers before discarding.