Rabobank to Block Debit Cards Outside Europe to Combat Fraud

Rabobank Groep, the biggest Dutch mortgage lender, plans to block retail-banking clients’ debit cards for use outside Europe unless specifically requested otherwise by the account-holder to combat theft of card information.

Clients will be able to lift the blockade and access their accounts from specific continents for specific periods of time, Rabobank said in an e-mailed statement today.

Theft and abuse of debit- and credit-card information, known as “skimming,” cost Dutch banks 39 million euros ($51 million) last year, according to Rabobank. Some 24,000 of Rabobank’s clients had money taken from their accounts, it said.

“A number of banks abroad have already implemented this sort of blockade,” Rik Op den Brouw, retail director at Rabobank Nederland, said in the statement. “The number of fraud incidents has dropped sharply and the response from clients is generally positive. We expect this measure will also lead to substantially less financial damage resulting from skimming in the Netherlands.”

Rabobank has 6.8 million customers in the Netherlands, according to the Utrecht-based lender’s 2011 annual report.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Buckley in Amsterdam at johnbuckley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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