Banker warns of boom in fake cards in Phuket

PHUKET: A senior banker has warned that there has been a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit credit cards and ATM cards in Phuket and other tourism centers, such as Chiang Mai and Haad Yai.

Prayootd Tansrisuwarn, Senior Vice President of Kasikorn Bank’s Retail and SME E-Business Department, told the Gazette that gangs of con artists are using “skimmer” devices to harvest information from magnetic strips on the back of cards used by unsuspecting victims.

The skimmers are used in two ways. Either they are inserted into the slot of an ATM machine, or they are used by accomplices working in jobs that involve handling credit cards, such as hotel cashiers and supermarket check-out staff.

The information skimmed from a card is then used to make a fake credit card or ATM card.

K. Prayootd said the rise in counterfeiting may be the result of Thailand’s neighbors switching from cards with magnetic memory strips to “smart” cards with computer chips embedded in them. As “smart” cards cannot be read by the skimmers, K. Prayootd is urging card users in Thailand to switch to smart cards as soon as they find a bank that can issue them.

Counterfeiting gangs have been using “cloned” credit cards to buy goods from retail outlets, especially hypermarkets such as Tesco-Lotus and Big C, he said.

Those responsible for handling credit cards should therefore examine them very carefully, he added.

There are ways to detect the fakes, he explained.

“The logo of the issuing company, such as Visa or Mastercard, should be printed very clearly and the credit card number should be sharply and clearly embossed – you should not be able to erase it or scratch it out.

“On the back of the card, the signature area should be sharply defined and impossible to scratch off. In addition, examine the credit card number on the back. If it is in italicized numerals that are leaning to the right, it’s fake,” he said.

Banks advise users of ATM cards to change their personal identification number (PIN) regularly in order to stop counterfeiters from drawing cash from their accounts. In addition, anyone suspecting his or her credit card has been cloned should contact the issuing bank immediately.

Phuket News
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