FICO and Equifax warn banks about "hidden" credit card fraud

By , CardRatings contributor
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On the surface, banks report some of the lowest credit card default, delinquency, and fraud rates they've experienced since the industry started keeping records. Yet, according to two major credit service firms, credit card issuers have yet to experience the full impact of hidden fraud across the global banking industry.

FICO and Equifax recently hosted an anti-fraud roundtable in London, where they met with representatives from some of the world's largest personal lenders. In a joint statement to reporters, the two companies expressed their common goal of keeping personal credit databases free from the kinds of errors that can delay or deter lenders from extending loans or issuing credit cards.

The session's facilitators warned banking officials to watch for "first party fraud," a growing scheme in which consumers apply for credit with no intent to repay. Organized crime rings recruit recent immigrants or gamblers with outstanding debts, forcing them to hand over new credit cards to fraudsters. Without evidence linking the consumers to the rings, banks fail to initiate full fraud investigations, the experts said.

Identity thief fights credit card issuers in court

Meanwhile, prosecutors in a Fargo, N.D., courtroom expressed frustration as a convicted identity thief stonewalled their attempts to gain restitution for victims bilked out of $1.5 million. Nigerian native Adekunle Adetiloye used over 600 fraudulent bank accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle in Toronto. Adetiloye was extradited to the United States and convicted of mail fraud after customer service agents at U.S. Bank supplied recordings of his phone calls to federal prosecutors.

Although Adetiloye owes Citibank and Discover nearly a quarter million dollars each, his attorney has stalled restitution hearings by challenging each of the 69 pending claims. The debate centers on whether Adetiloye should cover the legal fees and lost wages of his identity theft victims. According to Associated Press reports, Adetiloye's public defender spent an hour refuting the restitution claims, forcing a federal judge to spend days reviewing more evidence. Federal investigators first became aware of Adetiloye when trying to reconcile his request for welfare payments with the luxury SUV and high-priced real estate in his possession.

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