Total System Services Inc., Columbus, Ga., said it has signed a long- term agreement to gain access to the fraud prevention technology of Nestor Inc.

The agreement means Nestor's Prism fraud detection software will be integrated with Total System's anti-fraud system, resulting in what the card processing company called "the world's first fully blended fraud control system using multiple technologies to identify high-risk transactions."

Nestor specializes in neural network systems, which can discern from vast stores of transaction data patterns that indicate fraud or abuse.

"By adding neural technology to existing statistical and rules-based capabilities, Total System offers the most complete and flexible fraud detection system in the industry," said Total System president Philip W. Tomlinson.

"We have a record of helping our clients avoid millions in fraud loss each year," he added, "and through this enhancement we expect to add even more value to our anti-fraud services."

Skeet Rolling, the processor's vice president of fraud control services, said Total System chose Nestor after extensive research and testing.

The Providence, R.I., neural network provider's technology is also at the heart of Artemis, the fraud detection system that Europay International, MasterCard's European affiliate, provides to member banks.

At least 20 major bank card organizations have committed to Artemis, including Barclays Bank and National Westminster Bank in Britain, Bank of Ireland, Europay Switzerland, and the Association of Spanish Savings Banks.

Officially launched in late March, Artemis showed in pilot tests that it can detect up to 50% of counterfeit attempts and 70% of all fraudulent transactions on criminals' first attempt to make them.

Artemis, which analyzes merchant rather than consumer behavior patterns, will initially be applied to Eurocard-MasterCard credit card volumes. Europay said a merchant monitoring system can pay off significantly because 80% of counterfeiting can be traced to less than 15% of card-accepting merchants.

Separately, Nestor announced the introduction of Prism DebitAlert to combat fraud in off-line debit transactions. It noted that off-line debit cards are processed through the Visa and MasterCard credit card networks and are vulnerable to the same types of fraud that afflict credit cards.

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