When it comes to detecting and preventing fraud, electronic payments are far safer and more secure than cash. Yet, as a County Commissioner in Yellowstone County, Montana, I can tell you that criminals are highly adaptive and will work to find new ways to perpetrate fraud and abuse. Fortunately, electronic payment networks like MasterCard are constantly upgrading their technology to help prevent fraud, ease the financial burdens of consumers and small business owners and help law enforcement control criminal activity that is expensive to police and prosecute.
In a state as big and spread out as ours, we Montanans rely on the technology of electronic payment networks to gain access to the goods and services we need and value. Relying on a cash and check economy would hurt commerce here, so we need a safe and reliable electronic payment system—and that means everyone doing their part to prevent fraud.
In my tenure as County Commissioner, I’ve seen many of our businesses fall victim to fraudsters. But we can’t just rely on law enforcement to arrest those criminals, we have to educate our local merchants on how to prevent fraud in the first place. And that education starts with understanding the power to prevent and fight fraud that resides in the technology and expertise of companies like MasterCard, which build and maintain the electronic payment networks we rely on for credit, debit and prepaid card transactions that are safe, simple and smart.
Here in Montana, we have the benefit of Master Your Card, a public education campaign sponsored by MasterCard to help government, small businesses and consumers understand the full power of payment card technologies so that they can reduce fraud, increase commerce and save taxpayers money. Master Your Card recently gathered elected officials, consumer advocates, local law enforcement and local business owners. We spent a morning with MasterCard’s experts, learning how to prevent, detect and prosecute fraud using the latest technology.
Two things became very clear, very quickly. First, most of us don’t fully utilize the tools and resources that MasterCard’s technology gives us to prevent fraud from ever happening. The plastic cards in our wallets and purses work so well and so often that we take them for granted. We can do much more with the existing security features and technologies to protect our money, our businesses and our communities. Getting the word out on these solutions is a much more powerful and efficient way to defeat fraud compared to apprehending, prosecuting and incarcerating criminals.
Second, MasterCard has a pipeline of new technologies to help us stay ahead of fraud and make electronic payments even more secure. We’ve had magnetic strips on our cards for more than 40 years, but now we can have embedded chips that help to enhance the security of our payments and enable contactless payments that let us tap and pay without ever placing our card in the hands of a stranger. Mobile phone applications and e-commerce enhancements like SecureCode™—a service that allows you to provide your bank with a personal code that authenticates you as the genuine cardholder before money is sent from your card account to a merchant or business—are examples of how innovation and free-market competition continue to make electronic payments safer, simpler and smarter.
We can’t arrest our way into safety—but we can better educate ourselves and use the technology MasterCard and others provide to prevent fraud in the first place. We need to realize that MasterCard isn’t a bank and it doesn’t send us bills, set our interest rates or extend credit. It’s a global leader in providing the technology we can use every day on Main Street and in our homes to confidently go about our business. Knowing how to fully use that technology is how we’re beating fraud in Montana and around the world.