Thursday, October 27, 2005

Could rogue geeks raid my bank account?

We've been chattering for years about the checkless future, but this new study by MasterCard still takes me by surprise. Does anybody else worry that this flood of direct debits may magnify the potential for huge frauds? Those concerns aren't theoretical. We recently learned, for instance, how an insiders' scheme almost took down Britain's ATM system in the 1990s?

I advise people all the time to scrutinize every statement, not only from their credit-card companies but also from their banks and phone companies. Any business that has the ability to sneak off with small amounts of money from large numbers of people is at risk from computer-savvy employees who've "gone rogue," as the Brits so smartly put it. Nowadays, the booty could wind up with terrorist cells as well as with ordinary criminals.

I use my American Express card and direct bank debits to pay bills, for the convenience and because some companies offer incentives. The MasterCard study is oddly silent on the latter method, though it may wrap them in with "debit-card" payments. If it's a MasterCard or Visa debit card, of course, the business probably has to cough up a bigger service fee - a cost you'll end up paying eventually, of course, in higher prices.

But convenience aside, the new system we're so blithely adopting gives me the creeps: It vastly increases the number of businesses that have the keys to my bank account, and offers a wider playing field for the rogues.

This new efficiency could come at a very high price.


Anonymous kerry said...

good to see a blog dealing with credit card issues. Credit cards are a necessity in Western Life. Sadly they can be one of our biggest liabilities. I have a site dealing with clever credit card use. You might like to take a look

Tuesday, January 10, 2006  

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