Visa to Detect Fraud Via Location-Tracking Phone Apps

Today’s banks and credit card providers have a number of sophisticated methods to detect fraud, but Visa has a new approach that will match your purchases to your phone’s location.

MasterCard, meanwhile, announced plans to authenticate users via facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching.

Starting in April, Visa credit card issuers will be able to add location tracking to their mobile apps. Install the app, turn on location information, and Visa will be able to cross-check your purchases to your location before it shuts down an account for suspected fraud activity. The actual matching will be done by mobile identity firm Finsphere, and you can shut it off at any time.

So, if you head to Las Vegas for the weekend and splurge on a fancy dinner or withdraw a few hundred dollars from the ATM and hit the casino floor, your phone app will tell Visa that you are, in fact, in Las Vegas and not at home.

Usually, it’s advisable to call your credit card company before you go on vacation – especially if you’re traveling abroad – so they know you’ll be in a new location and won’t strand you without a card if they think it’s been stolen. Presumably, this new app means you can skip that step, though you’ll need to periodically connect to a cellular or Wi-Fi network during your trip so the app can register a location.

“Wherever you are in the world, we want Visa transactions to be the most secure, convenient and seamless payment choice,” Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of risk products and business intelligence at Visa, said in a statement. “By matching the location of the cardholder through a cell phone or other mobile device, to the location of the purchase, Visa’s new service will enable banks to feel more confident about authorizing a transaction that might otherwise have been declined due to suspicion of fraud.”

Visa said it expects the app to help reduce card declines by up to 30 percent.

At MasterCard, the company said it will invest more than $20 million to boost security. That includes a pilot program later this year with First Tech Federal Credit Union, which will let users authenticate using biometric data, like fingerprints or facial recognition.

This spring, the card provider is also launching something known as Safety Net, which it said will monitor and block specific transactions based on selected criteria. It did not elaborate, but said MasterCard Safety Net “is designed to intervene only in extreme cases to block fraudulent activity.”



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