The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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E-ticket fraud hits plastic
- Credit card details stolen, used to book bulk flight berths

Mumbai, Dec. 17: If you’ve used your credit card lately, check your bill now.

In Mumbai, 70 complaints of credit card fraud involving e-tickets have been registered in the past month. “This is out of the total 140 cases of cyber crime registered this year,” says Sanjay Mohite, DCP (prevention), Mumbai police.

An IIT Mumbai professor, Supratik Chakrabarty, ran up a bill of nearly Rs 1.2 lakh after submitting his credit card details online for an air ticket. After his credit card statement recorded 21 tickets bought in October, Chakrabarty blocked his card and approached the police.

“We have been receiving one or two cases of credit card frauds involving airline tickets every day since the last one month. In one case, cops arrested a travel agent who had been buying information from shops, malls, showrooms, hotels etc where the victims had used their credit cards,” says Smita Golap, ACP (cyber cell), Mumbai police.

The jump in credit card frauds has coincided with the start of the holiday season.

Captain Ramesh Giridharilal Gulati, managing director of a Mumbai-based shipping company, found that airline tickets worth Rs 83,300 were bought on his Standard Chartered card between November 8 and 11.

He was on a trip to the Far East and was carrying his card when the theft happened.

“Credit card fraud is a very easy job. When you shop online, you have to provide your credit card number, its expiry date and Customer Verification Value to enter the system. All three are printed on the card. Any unscrupulous person who gets access to your card can make a note of these numbers and then log on and misuse it later. Even people who approach you to get other credit cards can photocopy your existing card for verification purposes and later abuse it,” says Mohite.

It is for the banks to come up with a more foolproof system for ensuring credit card security, he adds.

In Chakrabarty’s case, the fraudulent transactions exceeded his credit card limit, but instead of checking with him, the bank simply increased his card limit and informed him later.

Mahesh Rajaraman, head, risk control, cards and merchant acquiring, HDFC Bank, says: “Even though this is an issue that concerns the merchant establishment (airlines) more than it does the bank, we do take adequate care to make online ticketing extremely safe for our customers. This involves educating the customers from time to time on the dos and don’ts of card usage and a strong monitoring of e-transactions that helps us effectively track suspicious transactions.”

Aware of the problem, airlines are also upgrading their internal systems. “We have a three-layered process for the maintenance of security for e-commerce transactions. I don’t know how many cases are registered for frauds on online booking of tickets from our airline. But we do take precautionary measures — the recent one is a system that eliminates the need of a middleman or an operator. The passenger will have to dial their verification number and not read it out aloud on the phone,” says an Air Deccan spokesperson.

Banks are also launching new products to deal with the problem. “We have launched a virtual card which can be created online, for any value. It offers the user absolutely safe shopping on the Net where one doesn’t have to disclose card details. The card has a life of only 24 hours with any unspent balance being automatically credited back to your account,” says Rajaraman.

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