'Fraud' Not the Right Word

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RIVERWOODS, Ill. — Any discussion of fraud prevention with Kevin O'Donnell begins with a disclaimer.

"Fraud," says O'Donnell, is a misnomer. The operative word is "theft."

O'Donnell, VP credit issuance for Discover, warned there are vulnerabilities at any financial institution that has not adopted the latest fraud prevention tools.

"Fraud is a moving target because it is not really fraud, it is stealing," he said. "Every credit union website should have the right tools, and the credit and debit cards the credit union issues should have the latest tools."

Sometimes at smaller institutions in smaller communities there is a belief that fraud cannot happen to them, O'Donnell continued. "But everybody is a potential target, especially in the age of the Internet."

The company has been seeing more activity online, especially phishing attempts, which remain effective. He noted consumers remain very vulnerable if they are not protecting their computers. "And as we get more mobile, problems can happen very quickly. As smartphones are used more for banking, they will become a greater target."

To combat the emerging threat in mobile, Discover is working with law enforcement, but is avoiding any specifics. "We keep a low profile with the fraud prevention tools we are using. It is a tricky thing. Fraud is universal, so the industry works very hard to partner together because it ultimately increases the cost to consumers."

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