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Online fraud reveals loopholes in e-ticketing

Most e-ticketing sites lack security features to prevent misuse of credit card information, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 23:42 IST
Lalatendu Mishra
Lalatendu Mishra

The Rs 13.47-crore online fraud involving Kingfisher Airlines has exposed the vulnerability of airlines offering e-ticketing facilities.

According to cyber crime experts, most e-ticketing sites lack adequate security features to prevent misuse of credit card information.

Fraudsters taking advantage of loopholes in the verification system managed to dupe the airlines and unsuspecting credit card holders. But the reported fraud could well be the tip of the iceberg involving e-ticketing rackets in the country.

Facilitators of e-transactions have called for greater disclosure norms to be set by airlines. They have also advised credit card holders to be extra vigilant while making payments through cards. "The problem with e-ticketing is that the buyers do not have to show the card or swipe it while booking online. Unless airlines verify by asking passengers to show their identity cards and credit cards, the fraud get undetected. Indian Railways has the safest e-ticketing system as layers of checks take place during the journey. But this is lacking in some airlines," said a senior bank official on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

He said airline websites must get Verification By Visa (VBV) and Secure Code endorsements from Visa and MasterCard respectively for foolproof online transactions. "Such facilities act like barriers as the software asks for further authentication and pass words."

Parag Rao, head of marketing, Credit Cards, HDFC Bank, added: "Card holders must get cards swiped in front of them to prevent misuse. Suspicious transactions must be tracked by the airlines. Our virtual card Netsafe that automatically expires within 48 hours provides safeguards against net frauds."

Meanwhile, ICICI Bank denied media reports that all the fraudulent transactions in this case involved its cardholders. "Out of the 15,000 transactions, more than 60 per cent are international cards. From the rest, our cards are less than 3 per cent," said Madhivanan B, general manager customer services, ICICI Bank. Kingfisher Airlines also remained tight lipped about the issue. "Investigations are in progress. It is too early to comment," said an airline spokesman.

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First Published: Jan 25, 2007 23:42 IST