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MasterCard offers live fraud detection system

Grab a thief at the check-out.

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MasterCard Worldwide is to introduce a new service to help banks and other card issuers detect and stop PIN-based debit card fraud in real time.

Set for the first quarter of 2007, the service is being developed in collaboration with
BasePoint Analytics and is the company's first system to help card issuers detect debit card fraud at ATMs and point-of-sale systems during the authorisation process.

"From our perspective, a PIN transaction is probably the most secure transaction" a cardholder can make, said Jerry Sargent, MasterCard's vice president of debit strategy and alliance development. The new service will add to that security while at the same time alleviating growing consumer concerns about online fraud, he said.

"This is really about listening to our customers," Sargent said. "We have seen all sorts of headlines about e-mail scams, ID theft and data breaches, and the concern was that as this goes out into the wider consumer world, it may have an impact on consumers using these cards."

MasterCard's new service addressed a definite need, said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner. Even so, it was unclear how successful the company would be in getting banks and other issuers to sign up for the service. A majority of banks currently used Fair Isaac's Falcon fraud-detection system and their own home-grown systems for dealing with payment card fraud, she said.

"But MasterCard, along with Visa, was in a better position to see networkwide transactions," which could be an advantage in detecting fraud, Litan said. The fact that MasterCard was working with BasePoint was also noteworthy because of the latter's expertise in fraud detection, she added.

MasterCard's Online Fraud Monitor service will use a proprietary risk-scoring model that will look at factors such as account spending, transaction histories and device-level activity to calculate the likelihood of fraud on an individual ATM transaction, Sargent said.

For instance, if a card that in the past has been used only domestically were to be used in a large transaction in a foreign country, the transaction would automatically be flagged as high-risk for follow-up action.

MasterCard has been offering a similar fraud-detection capability for credit card and signature-based ATM transactions for some time now. With the new service, the company is extending the same capability to PIN-based transactions.

A lot of effort has gone into ensuring that the new service will not lengthen debit card transaction times or result in too many false positives, Sargent said. A "significant amount" of historical transaction data and data on fraudulent transactions has gone

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