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CITIBANK CHANGES THE FACE OF CREDIT CARDS; FIGHTS CREDIT CARD FRAUD

 CITIBANK CHANGES THE FACE OF CREDIT CARDS; FIGHTS CREDIT CARD FRAUD
 NEW YORK, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Citibank today announced a new product, Citibank Photocard, and became the first major credit card issuer to offer its cardmembers the option of having their photograph on their credit card. The new feature, announced by Richard Srednicki, general manager of Citibank MasterCard and Visa, is part of Citibank's program to provide its cardmembers the greatest possible protection against credit card fraud.
 "While there is no one solution to credit card fraud, Photocard will give Citibank cardmembers and merchants an extra degree of proection in their credit card transactions," Srednicki said. "At Citibank, we are committed to superior customer service, and protection against fraud is a number one priority for us."
 Beginning today, Photocard will be available to all Citibank cardmembers across the country. Selected Citibank retail bank branches will offer cardmembers the convenience of having their photograph taken in the branch at no expense. New York currently offers this alternative in 98 bank branches, and other Citibank retail bank branches will offer it across the country during 1992.
 In addition, any Citibank cardmember can mail in one passport size, color photograph along with a Photocard request form. Their Photocard will be sent to them within four weeks. Cardmembers will be informed how to obtain a Photocard by calling 1-800-CITIBANK (248-4226).
 In support of this effort, a major national advertising and direct mail campaign to announce Photocard will commence on April 27, and will be rolled out to all Citibank advertised markets by fall. The advertising campaign will include television and radio commercials and print ads, and will also feature Citibank MasterCard and Visa's first ever use of outdoor advertising. The outdoor effort will include billboards, bus shelters, and commuter cards. In addition, Citibank will send out mailers to current cardmembers encouraging them to obtain a Photocard.
 Citibank Photocard customers will have their color photograph digitized and printed right into the plastic of their card. The photo will appear in the upper right corner of the back of each Citibank card, situated so the account number -- embossed into the bank card -- overlays the photo. This will deter any efforts to tamper with the photo. The cardmember's photograph is digitally stored to be automatically imprinted into future card reissues.
 "Citibank has always been committed to providing the most innovative and responsive products and services that address the needs of our customers. We know first hand that lost or stolen credit cards are a nightmare for consumers who have to replace the lost cards and straighten out the trail of unauthorized charges that result from this illegal activity. Citibank believes that Photocard will offer the customer an important measure of protection against credit card fraud and serve as an I.D. at retail," said Srednicki.
 Credit Card Industry Fraud Escalates
 Credit card fraud is a growing problem for consumers and credit card issuers. Last year, the industry lost more than $1 billion to a variety of credit card frauds ranging from lost or stolen cards, to newly issued cards that are never received, to counterfeit cards.
 Photocard is part of a far reaching program that Citibank has initiated to provide its customers the highest level of protection against fraud. Two years ago, Citibank started a Fraud Early Warning program which monitors the daily transaction activity of each account in an effort to spot any suspicious activity. Citibank's Lost Wallet feature provides carbmembers assistance in the event of a lost or stolen card.
 On an ongoing basis to protect its cardholders, Citibank works actively with various law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the investigation and prosecution of credit card fraud.
 The Technology Behind Photocard
 Citibank worked with several leading companies to develop this exciting new product. The two leading companies -- DataCard and Polaroid -- provided the equipment and software behind Photocard. Citibank is the first card issuer in the world to use this new technology for placing a color photo on a bankcard.
 The underlying technology to record the photograph of the cardmember and place that image and the other cardmember data on the card was developed by DataCard. A new product from Polaroid is used to digitally scan the photographs to be used.
 The process by which Citibank puts the picture on the card is as follows: A passport-size color photograph of the cardmember is scanned through a device known as a "Central Capture Station." Polaroid's CS-500 Color Photographic Scanner analyzes the cardmember's picture, and converts the image into digital information in a computer.
 The actual Photocard itself is produced on a new product from DataCard known as the Series 9000 Card Personalization System. This system produces the Photocard in a totally automated process, including embossing, encoding, imprinting the image into the card through the use of a three-color thermal transfer printing process, overlaying the image, and finally inserting the card into an insert for mailing.
 This entire production process will actually allow Citibank to generate Photocards in less time than other issuers generate non-photo cards.
 Consumer Interest Led to Development of Photocard
 Prior to launching Photocard, Citibank conducted quantitative research in several markets around the country, asking consumers and retailers alike how best to combat credit card fraud. In addition, Citibank also tested the Photocard operation in southern Florida, the Washington, D.C. area, the State of Washington, and Nevada. The reaction from customers and merchants in the test markets was very positive.
 National Education Campaign
 In conjunction with the introduction of Photocard, Citibank is launching a full-scale national education program, aimed at educating consumers about credit card fraud. As part of this campaign, Citibank has developed and will distribute a free brochure called "Facing Credit Card Fraud -- New Realities, New Safeguards." In addition, along with the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Citibank will be sponsoring seminars open to the public across the country on how best to fight and deal with credit card fraud.
 Citibank is the largest issuer of bankcards in the nation, with 30 million cards in circulation.
 -0- 4/20/92
 /CONTACT: Michael Sullivan of Ruder Finn, 212-715-1513, for Citibank; or Susan Weeks of Citibank, 212-559-0580/
 (CCI) CO: Citibank ST: New York IN: FIN SU: PDT


GK-OS -- NY059 -- 0115 04/20/92 13:29 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 20, 1992
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