COVID-19: Considerations for Card Issuers

COVID-19: Considerations for Card Issuers

The following article was written by Tina Giorgio of ICBA Bancard, an ICBSD Preferred Partner.
Considering the current environment and how coronavirus has impacted so many facets of the payments industry, I wanted to draw your attention to the following fraud tips from ICBA Bancard’s SVP of Card Risk and Merchant Services, Alan Nevels. This and other timely information can also be found on ICBA’s Crisis Response & Preparedness Toolkit page.

As Some Fight the Virus, Others Fight Fraud

Community banks are the stars of the financial services industry, and during times of crisis community bankers burn brightly to provide a guiding light to their customers and community. ICBA Bancard® knows that protecting your bank’s cardholders and customers is all part of the job, but in light of a recent advisory noting that scammers are leveraging COVID-19 to defraud unsuspecting consumers, we’d like to offer a few recommendations that may be useful in your efforts.

Cardholder Education

The power of cardholder education should never be overlooked. Scammers are setting up fake COVID-19 websites, contacting people by phone and email, and sharing disinformation on social media platforms in a bid to steal customer data and take over online banking, credit card accounts, and related rewards accounts.
As always, informed consumers are a critical line of defense against cheats and fraudsters. Use every opportunity to educate your customers about what a social engineering attack looks like and how they can avoid and report it.

As noted in a recent ICBA Main Street Matters blog post, proactively connect with your customers and remind them what they can expect from your community bank in the next few months.

Let your customers know what information you might have to ask them for. More importantly, let them know what information you will never ask them via email or phone. Remind them that it is always a good idea to review their accounts for unfamiliar activity and to report anything suspicious before it spirals.

Parameter Review

It is important to regularly review and assess your card program parameters and associated rule sets to ensure they meet your risk tolerance. With a growing number of Americans facing unemployment, you may be experiencing an uptick in cash advances and requests for credit line increases. Where appropriate, you may choose to set daily use limits.
You can also protect your bank and customers by setting parameters that ask for step-up verification measures for out-of-the-ordinary transactions. As cardholders increasingly transact online and via their mobile phones, so do the criminals.

Know Your Customer

One of the best ways to know your customer is to authenticate them. Two-factor authentication, step-up challenge measures and/or enhanced verification procedures when authenticating cardholders have proven effective in thwarting account takeover. A layered approach involving multi-faceted protection efforts is one of the best ways to verify that your bank customers and cardholders are indeed who they say they are.

ICBA Bancard and its parent, Independent Community Bankers of America, have many resources to help protect your bank and its customers during this crisis. For specific COVID-19 resources, visit the Crisis Preparedness web page.

For cyber-specific resources, our Cyber and Data Security Toolkit offers information on key industry resources such as Sheltered Harbor and .Bank as well as best practices to protect your community bank from cyberthreats.

As always, please contact us at with your specific questions or concerns and a team member will respond as soon as possible.