THE GARCI SCANDAL just got hotter!

Virgilio “Garci” Garcilliano seems to be all smiles these days. And why not? He probably realizes that he has the best hand in any poker game and he received a very nice and most likely, big fat Christmas present.

Not only is his controversial case dismissed by the Department of Justice (Injustice is more appropriate), he was most likely even paid to shut-up.

If Garci talks or if he was found guilty, then the legitimacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is definitely going to be the main topic of discussion and would then be the focus of the opposition.

It was predicted that due to the above reasons, Garci’s case was dismissed. It would not seem appropriate (for the President & her trapos) if Garci was found to be guilty.

But because of this too, Garci seems to have the upper-hand and his secret will only remain a secret if he is alive or if he finds a higher bidder. Most likely, he can also do a complete turn-around like what the President is very well know for nowadays. It is a popular move in the Cha-cha.

To top it all, Garci is going to run for Congress.


Mastercard’s “PayPass” is now available in the Philippines

Now that we see advertisements in the newspaper regarding the new MASTERCARD PayPass, let us see what this is all about and if it will be safe and secure for the innocent Filipino cardholder.

This is the Mastercard PayPass description based on the official Mastercard website.

And we will find one of the local Mastercard PayPass products as offered by Banco de Oro as their BDO Mastercard PayPass ATM .

Let us not get too excited as this new product could have different “terms & conditions” when given to us poor Filipinos.

Please note that the original Mastercard PayPass has

Safe and secure—just like your traditional card

Your card never leaves your hand. And you get the same level of security that you’ve been accustomed to: $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and a receipt for every purchase. The chip within your MasterCard PayPass card has the same information as that on the magnetic strip of your card. Current MasterCard and Issuer privacy and confidentiality rules apply as per your current cardholder agreement.

The above-mentioned statement in the Mastercard PayPass website cannot be found in our local Philippine version. Please note the “$0 liability on unauthorized purchases”.

In effect, it would seem that this PayPass is even more dangerous if a thief would get their hands on it. Imagine, no need for signature or PIN number to transact? Are we making products for the benefit of thieves?

There are no studies or data yet regarding the number of users of this local Mastercard PayPass here in the Philippines.

Just be careful of your belongings all the time and don’t have too much cash stored in “unsafe” type of cards.

But in the end, the last line of defense and security is the store or shop merchants themselves. Hopefully, they are not too eager to make a sale and forget about verifying who they are dealing with.

Credit Card for the Philippines

What kind of credit card do we Filipinos need to have to protect us from credit card theft or identity theft?

Here are two things which a credit card “must have” be prevent identity theft:

  1. Must have a clear and recent picture of the cardholder on the front of the card.
  2. Must have a “PIN Number” which is needed for every transaction.

Please note that these two “must haves” are applicable for merchant POS (point of sale) transactions.

For internet transactions, usually the CVV/CVV2 are required and this will not be stamped on the back of the credit card. This CVV/CVV2 shall be given in another mail and will not be visible on the credit card. And so only the cardholder should know the CVV/CVV2.

So now, if the credit card thief steals your card he/she has to go through several obstacles or challenges:

For Point of Sale transactions:

  • He/she must look like you somehow
  • He/she should know your PIN # which only you should know

And For Internet transactions

  • He/she should know your CVV/CVV2 and even your billing address.

Is this hard to “apply”? Not really since other countries are already doing it.

Why aren’t we doing it?

Maybe it is because the credit card companies will have “lesser” transactions due to a “lesser” number of thieves maxing-out credit cards.

To the Credit Card Association of the Philippines or CCAP: Please do something about credit card theft and please do not blame the victims. Stop crime by preventing the thieves by simply implementing various safety features to our credit cards. Thank you!

Credit Card theft in the Philippines

Credit card theft in the Philippines happens every single day. In fact, the credit card companies already know who the thieves are but are they doing anything to stop them? Please check out this forum topic

One modus operandi of these “gang of thieves” (maybe you can even call them to belong to a guild or syndicate) is for them to apply to a “company training seminar” or something similar. Once they infiltrate a company, they will scout for people to victimize. 90% of the known cases of this type of “sneaky” credit card theft is done by women. These thieves would simply get a wallet from a bag, get the cards and cash, then leave the wallet in the ladies comfort room. Within hours, the card has already been used or even “maxed-out”. And the victim is then shocked to notice that her wallet is stolen after a few hours.

Another type of theft is by direct “hold-up” or stealing with the use of force. And others use the tactic of bag-slashing etc. The victims are again women but the thieves could be men who give the credit card to their lady counterparts to use. But we do not have to be concerned with the “hold-up” type of theft since you know that something was stolen from you and you can report it right away.

Okay, now we know that credit card theft happens… what you do not know is what happens after….

  • You report the “theft” to the credit card company
  • The credit card tells you to write a dispute letter or fill-up a dispute form
  • You do this dispute letter or form and submit it
  • The credit card company tells you that they will investigate (yah right!)
  • You contact them after two weeks
  • The credit card company says they are still investigating
  • You get a your credit card bill and notice that the fraudulent transactions are increasing in value due to the high interest rates and so you call the credit card company.
  • The credit card company tells you that they are still investigating (yah right!) In actuality, they are stalling so that the interest fees increase and snow-ball.
  • You call them up again and complain that it is taking forever.
  • The credit card company then tells you that they have sent their decision in the mail.
  • You get a mail telling you that you are liable for the fraudulent transaction because you only informed them after the card was used. (but how can you inform them ahead of time when it was stolen without your knowledge in the first place)
  • And then the harassment and threats by “collectors” begin.

My advise is just to ignore these collection agencies and the harassment these credit card companies do. So long as you have proof that you were not the one who did it, they cannot put the blame on you. For example

  • The signature does not match at all
  • The merchant did not ask for a valid identification from the user (thief)
  • You were not anywhere within the vicinity of where the transaction took place and you have lots of witnesses to prove this.

Please note that once you do a “stolen credit card call” the credit card company holds the “funds” that would have been paid to the merchant or store. In effect, the funds are floating and therefore, they do not need to pay the merchant or store and so…. the store does not need to be paid and therefore you do not owe anybody.

Why will the credit card company say that you owe them money if they did not pay the merchant or store? And if the merchant or store did not abide by asking for a valid identification from the credit card user (thief), then they are held liable for their security breech or incompetence.

Now if the credit card company paid the merchant or store even after you reported that the credit card was stolen and you did not do those fraudulent transactions, then it is the credit card company’s fault for paying the merchant or store. It was their choice in giving a payment even if the transaction was reported to be fraudulent.

It is “only in the Philippines” that these credit card companies do not do anything to protect the honest credit card owners. With their policies, they are actually protecting the thieves and even persuade these thieves to steal more credit cards since the fault will be blamed on the victim.

Another theory is that these thieves use the credit cards “more than” the credit card owners themselves. And of course, the credit card companies benefit from this “thieves”. The credit card companies are actually protecting and promoting the credit card theft industry and this is the main reason as to why the Philippines is not even allowed on Google Checkout out of 100 countries.

And this was also what most likely prevented Paypal from allowing our country to transact with them.

The next topic will be how to protect ourselves against credit card thieves or what should the credit card companies do to protect the credit card owners (if they really did care).