THE police and possibly the Secret Service will look into reports that mobsters based in the occupied areas are primed for a major credit card fraud caper.
Daily Alithia claimed yesterday the criminal operation, which involves stealing credit card information and emptying out bank accounts, is being mounted from the north, out of reach of Cypriot authorities.
The paper said the ‘gangs’ had the equipment to crack credit card codes, and that the haul could be €5 million or more.
Police spokeswoman Lefki Solomontos said this type of crime was currently on the decline, but urged the public to exercise caution when using their credit cards, be it at ATMs or online, and to regularly check their bank account balance.
She went on to assure the public that police are constantly in contact with the Central Bank and that commercial banks avail themselves of state-of-the-art technology protecting customers’ private information.
Later in the day it was confirmed that the paper spoke with the police.
Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said the police’s Financial Crime unit would ‘look into’ the matter.
“For our part, we’ve received no tip-off from abroad regarding such an operation. But in the wake of the [press] reports, we shall be in touch with Europol.”
Asked whether the information from the paper regarded cloning of credit cards and/or online theft, Katsounotos said that it concerned both.
Cloning a credit card takes seconds. Whilst a card is being swiped for payment – or inserted into an ATM – the details are copied and then downloaded on computer.
In March police arrested a Bulgarian national after five fake credit cards were found in his possession. Police had been alerted to the operation of a counterfeit credit card scheme after credit card processing company JCC informed them of 50 uses of 16 forged credit cards at banks in Limassol.
For online banking (e-banking), any commercial bank worth its salt has advanced encryption software protecting customers’ information.
If you’re into e-banking, here are some basic safety tips:
Ensure you’ve got antivirus software installed on your computer, and run regular scans
Use spyware, malware and spam detection and elimination programs
Use a firewall, particularly if you have an “always-on” connection to the Internet such as ADSL
Beware of emails asking you to disclose bank account information and/or access codes (phishing)
Never share your PIN (Personal Identification Number) with anyone.
When logging on e-banking, make sure no one is watching you; avoid using an automatic login feature that saves your PIN
Change your password frequently, say once a month, and avoid reusing the same passwords
Don’t download files from unknown sites or strangers; don’t click on email links from unknown senders.