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Fraud prevention on the slide

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

Keep an eye on your credit cards. Credit card issuers are slacking off on keeping snoops out of your accounts.

Fraud prevention dropped off for the third straight year at financial institutions, according to a credit card security study released Tuesday from Javelin Strategy & Research. Fraud detection remained steady, while resolution efforts grew more robust.

"Fraudsters are moving faster in the industry, and there is still a lot of work to do in prevention," says Phil Blank, Javelin's research director of security, risk and fraud. "That's the most troubling trend."

Blank says prevention is the hardest area when it comes to security measures, but it has the biggest payback in terms of fraud avoidance and consumer security.

Of the 23 financial institutions surveyed in the study, Bank of America topped the category in large part because it has partnered with a security vendor and it has taken extra steps to ensure safe online access.

The bank has installed additional levels of authentication on its website and also provides customers with downloadable software to prevent "man-in-browser" attacks. That's code for a phishing email that asks you to open a picture of, say, sleeping puppies and instead installs a program that captures keystrokes.

Overall, Bank of America took the top spot for security. It also ranked No. 1 in detection and tied for first with BB&T Bank, Cabela's WFB and Discover for resolution.

(And in case you were wondering, given its recent security oops, Citibank tied for 17th place with BB&T Bank for fraud prevention and shared seventh place with Wells Fargo for overall security.)

Blank said other financial institutions plan to follow Bank of America's lead this year and require tougher sign-in security measures to access accounts online.

But they shouldn't stop there. Blank says credit card issuers should stop asking for full Social Security numbers and use other security questions instead.  Companies could also beef up their email or text alerts, so that a consumer has to okay certain purchases in real-time before they go through.

"No one knows the consumer's spending habits better than the consumer," Blank says.

What do you think credit card issuers should do to protect you better?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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