- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Text messages alerting consumers about bank transactions are bringing Minnesota residents peace of mind.

Interest in fraud alerts among consumers is growing in light of increasing cyber-attacks, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1x7P31k ) reported. Participants are able to address unauthorized purchases and detect compromised accounts immediately after receiving an alert.

“Anyone does anything on my card, it’ll tell me immediately,” said Richard Davies-Doku of Minneapolis. “It shows you exactly what the transaction is. If someone’s in Old Navy using my card right now, it would alert me, let me know, for example, you spent $29.99 at Old Navy.”

A Javelin Strategy & Research survey conducted last year found 27 percent of shoppers had received an account alert within the past 30 days. Nearly half of the surveyed Bank of America, Chase and Citibank customers use the fraud-prevention services.

“In 2013, we witnessed a record number of consumers becoming victims of existing card fraud,” said Al Pascual, a fraud and security analyst for Javelin. “Just short of five percent had either their existing credit card or debit card accounts misused. We think a lot of that is actually being driven by data breaches.”

Javelin estimates an average case of consumer card fraud in 2013 totaled about $1,400, adding up to $11 billion overall. On average, cardholders spent 9 hours trying to resolve damage done by information thieves.

The text alerts don’t only help consumers, according to Pascaul, they also help the banks that offer them.

“It saves the financial institutions money,” he said. “They no longer have to have someone calling me, asking me whether or not I committed a transaction. It saves me grief potentially. Maybe maintains the relationship, too. If I’m a fraud victim and my bank doesn’t tell me, then I might take issue with that.”

Most banks and credit unions offer the alerts through a free opt-in program.

“The bad guys are getting very, very good at being bad,” said David Robertson, who tracks the payment card industry as a publisher of the Nilson Report. “Having the cardholder participate in the protection of the system is an important thing to do.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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