Basil Jarrett | Banning Bank Fraud | Commentary

Basil Jarrett | Banning Bank Fraud | Commentary

The 2024 Olympics begin in just over two weeks, and even though the true king of track and field, Usain Bolt, has been retired for most of the last seven years, the Games still feel empty and lacking in substance without him.

From 2008 to 2016, Bolt captured the world’s imagination, using his status as the fastest human being of all time to elevate himself beyond the status of an athlete. An icon, a philanthropist, and one of the most captivating human beings of all time, we are all fortunate to have lived through and witnessed this era of greatness. But this story is not about Bolt. Nor is it about track and field and this month’s Olympics. Bolt may have dominated sprinting for eight years before retiring to private life in 2017, but this January he reintroduced himself to us as the face of a different kind of competitive sport: the cat-and-mouse game between law enforcement and bank fraudsters.

Since the $2 billion Bolt disappearance and SSL fraud was discovered and reported early last year, Jamaica has been inundated with an explosion of fraud, financial and cybercrime, ransomware incidents, phishing scams and distributed denial of service attacks. To this soup of criminal activity, we can now add three more letters to this growing list of threats to our banking systems: BIN attacks.

BIN attacks are an increasingly common method used by fraudsters to gain access to people’s bank accounts to make fraudulent purchases or transactions. The BIN (Banking Identification Number) is the first set of numbers, usually six digits, on a person’s debit or credit card. Once criminals have these numbers, they are able to guess a valid combination of the card number, expiration date, and card verification value (CCV), all of which are needed to complete a card transaction.

“Wait a second,” you hear yourself say. “Credit and debit cards typically have 15 to 16 digits. How can anyone guess the remaining 10 digits, let alone expiration dates and CCV numbers?” It’s simple. The massive computing power of today’s generative AI capabilities can produce these complex calculations in minutes, if not seconds.

Last year, industry experts noted that e-commerce fraud rates continued to rise as fraudsters increasingly leveraged generative AI to commit more sophisticated cybercrimes. Credit card giant Mastercard said that e-commerce fraud in the U.S. for 2023 was approaching $50 million, while analysts at Juniper Research estimated that global total online payment fraud exceeded $340 billion. I think it’s safe to say that 2024 will see these threats continue as the landscape increasingly evolves to reflect the impact of mainstream generative AI like ChatGPT and others.

It goes without saying that Jamaica is not immune to these threats. BIN attacks, like many other forms of cybercrime and financial cybercrime, are a common problem for all banks in Jamaica and, indeed, around the world.

The solution, and I can’t stress this enough, is therefore better education and adherence to strict online banking security protocols and practices. Protection against BIN attacks involves, at the most basic level, protecting your personal information. Individuals should avoid sharing sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, CVV codes, and BIN ranges with unauthorized individuals or websites. Caution should also be exercised when providing personal information online. If your bank offers it, you should also opt for secure payment methods, such as credit cards with built-in fraud protection and zero liability policies. It is also a good idea to regularly monitor your debit and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity.

You should also make sure your devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, are up to date with the latest security patches and antivirus software, which can help protect you from malware, phishing, and other cyber threats. You should also be very careful when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media posts. It’s also a good idea to be wary of messages asking for sensitive information or demanding urgent action, as these may simply be elaborate phishing attempts.

Among these tips and advice to help you fend off fraudsters, one particular recommendation that I had never considered was to simply minimize the amount of cash in your bank accounts linked to your card and try to spread your money across different bank accounts. This helps minimize losses if one of your accounts is hacked or compromised. Awesome. Aside from the cybersecurity tips and advice mentioned above, this was exactly the kind of useful and practical information that I believe will help people take effective steps to protect their money.

The reality is that cyberattacks, BIN attacks, and other forms of online banking fraud are here to stay, and no one, and no bank, is immune. So part of the solution is for banks to continue to offer these types of simple, useful tactics that individuals can adopt and implement with relative ease, and to communicate them widely to the public.

Major Basil Jarrett is a communications strategist and CEO of Artemis Consulting, a communications consultancy specializing in crisis communications and reputation management. Visit him at www.thecrisismajor.com or send your comments to [email protected]