Debit and credit card compromises are on the rise as information breaches at various merchants - including large retail chains such as Target, Home Depot and Kmart - are affecting millions of cardholders nationwide.
Though such security breaches and any release of account information are solely attributable to the merchant and its payment processor, local banks like Athens Federal are taking a proactive approach to identifying compromises, protecting personal card information and preventing future fraud.
According to Kenny Charles, Athens Federal VP of Information Technology, “Our priority is to provide customers with the safest and most secure financial services. As compromises from both local and national merchants continue to surge, our team works diligently to implement timely detection strategies and provide fraud protection services to our debit cardholders.”
Most financial institutions protect consumers from losses due to debit card fraud reported in a timely fashion under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and card issuer liability policies (such as MasterCard), but Athens Federal takes further measures and offers several additional services and best practice recommendations for its customers to avoid becoming victims of fraud.
SMS Guardian from Athens Federal is a free text alert monitoring service that screens debit card activity 24/7 and sends instant text messages to the cardholder when potentially fraudulent transactions are conducted. The customer can stop fraud in its tracks with a simple text reply. Alerts will be triggered if the following transactions occur on the enrolled card:
- Authorizations greater than $200
- 8 or more transactions in a 24-hr. period
- Online or other “card not present” transactions
- International or out-of-state transactions
Moreover, the free Athens Federal Mobile Banking app for iPhone and Android smartphones allows debit card holders to temporarily suspend their card when not in use and immediately re-activate it when they need it with a simple click. For instance, if you don’t plan to use your debit card for an extended period of time, temporarily disable or suspend it by selecting the “Manage Cards” app icon and turn it back on when you need it via the same simple click.
Athens Federal online and telephone banking customers are not only able to monitor their transactions 24/7 in real time, but can also immediately deactivate their debit card via their online account at www.athensfederal.com or by calling the telebanking line at 1-866-367-6710 when fraudulent activity is suspected.
Likewise, the Athens Federal 24-hour debit card fraud hotline not only continuously monitors your account and screens potential breaches, but is also available to customers who need to report fraudulent activity anytime, including after business hours and on weekends. As an additional layer of fraud prevention, Athens Federal constantly monitors debit card transaction activity and the bank’s card processor contacts customers at the phone number on record to verify recent activity if unusual or unreasonable activity is detected.
Most importantly, take a proactive approach to helping your bank help you reduce the likelihood of fraud on your debit card. Update your contact information if your email address and mobile phone number are not on file with your bank or have recently changed. Monitor your account closely and immediately report unusual or potentially fraudulent activity.
“It is critical that customers protect their debit card, just as they would cash, credit cards and checks ... safeguard your card, never disclose your PIN, contact your bank if you are planning to travel outside the state, keep your contact information up-to-date and most importantly, take advantage of fraud prevention services provided by your financial institution,” advised Chris Adams, Athens Federal VP of Deposit Operations.