Thousands of credit cards blocked
Atos Worldline, the company formerly known as Banksys which handles electronic payment transfers, last week took preventive action to block 45,000 credit cards after it discovered a potentially massive fraud operation.
The fraud was discovered in March but, according to a spokesperson for Febelfin, the federation for the financial sector, it is still not known which banks are involved or to what extent. "But the clients concerned will be informed in the days to come," the official said. Customers whose cards have been blocked will be issued with replacements for free: only the card is blocked, not the account behind it. Some reports alleged that Dexia was particularly affected.
There are three million credit cards in circulation in Belgium, used in transactions worth €7.5 billion a year. The fraud is thought to have involved 1,000 cards and some €1.2 million in transactions. Febelfin described the case as "serious but relatively small-scale".
No details have been released as to how the fraud was carried out, other than it involved obtaining data from the magnetic strip. PIN codes and CVC codes - the three-digit number on the back of the card - were not affected. More and more, the CVC code is required for online purchases; the fraudsters would therefore be restricted to less-secure sites which do not ask for it.
The federation reminded customers of the basic rules of credit card safety: keep secret codes secret; watch out for onlookers at ATMs; in case of fraud or suspected fraud, call 070.344.344 to block the card.