A Credit Card Digital Fingerprint That Looks At Three Months Of Payments

Written by Evan Schuman
May 23rd, 2010

Back about 14 months ago, much was written of a credit card fingerprint trial from Fifth Third Bank. The idea back then was to take a full snapshot of the card at a point where it can be assumed that card is valid, such as at the point of its manufacture.

One card reader vendor, MagTek, is taking that digital fingerprint approach and making it a little easier, using 2010 technology. But instead of grabbing the card at its birth—something that Fifth Third didn’t even try to do—MagTek is simply capturing the card the first time the vendor sees it as one of its POS stations.

But instead of assuming the card is valid, MagTek puts it into a “maybe yes, maybe no” state. It then waits through three billing cycles. If no fraud is caught and everything in paid and paid on time during those three cycles, the system assumes the card is legitimate and removes the flags. Now MagTek knows what to look for if it’s presented with a clone of that card.

The other element that has changed since last year, according to MagTek Chief Security Officer Tom Patterson, is pricing and equipment. “About 14 months ago, it involved a second circuit board wired into the POS,” Patterson said. Today, all that’s needed is an ASIC stuck to the back of a magnetic read head, which makes installation a lot faster and the hardware much lower cost.


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Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
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