TUCoPS :: Scams :: fingerpr.txt

You fingerprints ensure your credit card's validity


          By Susan Yellin - Canadian Press

It is perhaps only fitting that security at Mytec Technologies Inc. is
a couple of notches tighter than at most highrise offices.

For the headquarters of a young company developing a fingerprint-based
device to reduce credit card fraud, a surveillance camera and locked
double doors may be anything but unusual.

What is notable is the technology behing the invention.

It's based on biometrics, the science of applying statistical methods to
biology - in this case, using fingerprints to verify a person's identity
as teh credit card holder.

"This is the technology of the future," boast George Tomko, Mytec's 
president and chief executive officer.

The specialty is gaining significance because of another growth
industry: Theft.  Ingenious crooks are counterfeiting, stealing and 
otherwise cheating credit card companies out of millions of dollars a year.

Fraud involving VISA and MasterCard cost the banks and trust companies that
issued them almost $16 million in 1982, according to the Canadian Bankers
Association.  By 1992, it had quadrupled to $67.5 million.

Even holograms - the Chiclet-shaped, three-dimensional pictures on many
credit cards - are now being copied by counterfeiters, says Tomko, who
headed up the Canadian operations of Chubb Alarms before starting Mytec
in 1987.

Smart cards, which resemble credit or bank machine cards, can contain
information which is then transferred to a thumbnail-sized computer chip
embossed on the card.  "Smart" health insurance cards in New Zealand, 
for example, contain a patient's entire medical history.

But privacy problems can occur if the card is lost or stolen.

"However, if I now put your fingerprint on that card, the only way you
can access information is if yu, the individual, are there," says Tomko.

The International Association of Police Chiefs back this system as a 
deterent to crime.  Not only will it stop most credit card fraud, it will
provide a central police database of fingerprints from the majority of
the adult population.

Under Tomko's patent, information would be encoded on a smart card along
with fingerprints from the first and middle fingers, none of which would
be visible to the eye.  Two fingers provide less chance of error.

Then when the consumer wants to buy something, for example, the retailer
would place the card into a sensor made up of lenses and laser diodes
while the consumer places his index and middle finger on the machine.
If the fingerprints encoded on the card match the fingerprints on the
machine, the transaction is accepted almost immediately.

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