A Q&A with Rebekah Higgins, Synergent Vice President of Payment Services.

Rebekah Higgins, Synergent Vice President of Payment Services, is at the forefront of the latest trends in the industry. With all of the buzz happening around EMV, skimming, and security, she is working with credit unions and the media to help educate others. We sat down with Rebekah for the latest guidance in these areas

Rebecca HigginsTo align with global security standards, EMV has been implemented in the U.S. and is continuing to roll out, as members will notice, in their new chip cards and at terminals that are rapidly becoming chip-enabled. What is the latest feedback in security with regards to EMV?

“Based on the fact that the most recent merchant data breaches were completed prior to EMV rollout, I don’t know that we have seen the impact that EMV has made on fraud yet. Recent incidents involving skimming devices do tell us that people are using alternative methods to gather cardholder data as a result of EMV, as they have placed these devices at ATM terminals and Automated Fuel Dispensers, both of which had extended dates for the fraud liability shift.”

Members often have questions about how secure their financial data is in a mobile wallet. What guidance would you provide about mobile wallet security and accessibility?

“Security and accessibility information need to be part of the marketing campaign and member communication that credit unions use as they introduce these products. Both Apple and Android list the accepting merchants on their websites, and there continue to be several industry-based articles regarding security and acceptance of these services.”

The topic of skimming continues to draw a lot of media attention, including a recent article in MaineBiz that you were interviewed in highlighting skimming incidents at York County FCU in Sanford, Maine. Can you share what happened and how, as a partner, Synergent was able to assist?

“This credit union was blindsided by this incident, but it made us all realize that anybody is susceptible to this type of fraud without the proper precautions in place. While the work we completed for this credit union was reactive rather than proactive, the credit union has installed Anti-Skimming software and hardware on all ATM terminals. This software monitors the terminal’s card reader device and if something other than a plastic is placed in the card reader, the terminal will shut down until it is reset.

Additional direction was provided on the cardholder side in order to make members aware of the potential exposure they have at certain merchant locations. Educational documents were created for cardholders that provided guidance on what to look for at ATM terminal locations and how to protect their PIN. In addition, products such as CardValet were discussed as a method to notify cardholders quickly of potential fraud. This card control app allows members to implement settings regarding transaction notifications. If a cardholder receives a notification and they believe it is fraudulent or unauthorized, they have the ability to temporarily turn off their card until additional research is completed on the transactions in question. This program would have been very helpful in this situation, as the fraud was committed over a weekend when the branches were not staffed, which meant that cards could not quickly be identified as being compromised.”

Across all channels, new fraud detection tools are being rolled out. How are programs like CardValet providing financial security and control over one’s account access? 

“The individuals who commit fraud are very keen to the processes associated with cardholder usage. Based on this information, they know how to perform transactions in a manner that could circumvent the fraud monitoring tools that most financial institutions have and allow cardholders to react immediately to potential fraud rather than waiting for a call from the monitoring system. This could limit fraud losses for both the cardholder as well as the credit union.”

Credit Union Times recently reported that almost a third of consumers are victimized by card fraud. What new tools should credit unions be looking at in educating members about in the areas of fraud and security?

“In the EMV environment there are certain types of fraud that are expected to increase. One of these situations would be an increase in the amount of card-not-present fraud that credit unions experience as the chips are not used in this environment. Tokenization is a tool that can help prevent this type of fraud as it replaces legitimate cardholder data with data that is useless if compromised. Many online merchants have begun accepting tokenized payments which will help lessen the impact of potential fraud at these locations.

Based on a survey that was conducted, Visa is requiring all issuers to implement the ability for cardholders to receive transaction notifications as they have found that those cardholders who are aware of account activity quickly have fewer losses due to fraud. CardValet not only notifies cardholders of transactions, it also provides them with the ability to shut their card down immediately, and even more importantly, turn the card back on immediately if they determine that transactions were indeed authorized.”