Financial Fraud Victims Send out a Cry for Help
McConnell, Bill, American Banker
Last November, Mayo Clinic neurologist Mary Zupanc learned strangers had secretly mailed a change of address form to her post office. Armed with nothing more than a forged signature, the strangers gained control of Ms. Zupanc's bank accounts, creating another victim of a new type of financial crime - "account takeover."
First uncovered in 1994, account takeover is among several new types of financial fraud plaguing the consumer finance industry. Because criminals are rapidly adapting to the financial industry's technological advances, lawmakers are mulling new legislation that could help crime fighters keep pace.
Account takeover occurs when a criminal has enough information to call an individual's bank, change the victim's address and phone number, order new credit cards and checks, and even empty bank and retirement accounts.
Other increasingly prevalent types of fraud involve mail or telephone orders for credit cards, unauthorized debits of checking accounts, and wire advances to phony identities. Some victims may even find unauthorized purchases of telecommunications equipment on their telephone bills.
These new types of fraud highlight the dilemma faced by banks and credit card companies: once an effective remedy to one type of crime is found, more sophisticated scams pop up.
"Despite each battle we win, new types of fraud emerge, bringing with them new and increasingly difficult challenges," said Joel S. Lisker, senior vice president for security and risk management for MasterCard International. Despite the industry's obvious interest in fighting fraud, financial crime victims at an April 15 House Banking Committee hearing were skeptical. …