It was close to 6:00 p.m. on a Friday that had capped a jam-packed week and now on the 401 parking lot my car and I were both too low on fuel. I inched my way to the next exit and headed for the nearest gas station. Once there, I inserted my Visa card, picked up the pump handle with my right hand as usual and tried to select the usual grade. It didn’t work. I poked and thumped. Nothing. The transaction cancelled. I inserted my card again. Same result.

Surmising something to be wrong with that particular pump, I drove to a newly vacant pump at the end of the row. Same result. Transaction cancelled. Eventually I clued in that I was picking up the large red diesel pump handle instead of the smaller yellow nozzle to my far left which was for regular gas. Not one of my brightest moves and certainly not one I’d normally publicize.

However, about an hour later when I arrived home, my daughter handed me a message from a recent telephone call. I was to reply to a phone number for the bank whose credit card I had earlier been using. I did and was impressed to discover that my awkwardness at the gas pump had prompted such a fast check.

The bank rep asked me if I had been using my card for a gas purchase lately or if my card was missing. She later told me that a stolen card is often tried out on a gas purchase first. As a customer, I felt secure in the knowledge that technology is being put to use for my protection.

Even after preparing this issue of IT Focus with its theme of security and business continuity, I have the impression that this secure feeling is a common experience for most financial services customers. But not all. And maybe not even enough, as the page four article on Internet banking by Rebecca Reid would suggest. Thieves have developed an insatiable thirst for identity data which is even more valuable than money. As writer Chris Conrath reports on page four, they know how to find the gaps and use them to their advantage — including even an Internet service provider’s poor record at addressing complaints.

May all the content of this issue of IT Focus help you fight the pervasive presence of crime and human follies in all its guises.

– Susan Maclean,

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