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Researcher works to foil credit card fraud

May 22, 1997
Web posted at: 2:40 a.m. EDT (0640 GMT)

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STORRS, Connecticut (CNN) -- A researcher at the University of Connecticut has developed a security device for credit cards that can instantly tell whether a customer is the legitimate cardholder.

Despite recent security enhancements to credit cards, such as photo IDs, magnetic strips and holograms, electrical engineering professor Bahram Javidi says security can be improved.

Javidi has created a system that combines two security schemes, known as "biometrics" and "coded phase mask."

Biometrics stores a cardholders' photograph in a computer and matches it against a live photograph of an ATM user. It can also match users' fingerprints.

"As far as what is needed to verify you, all we need is a record of your fingerprint on your card," Javidi said. icon (187K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)


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Coded phase mask adds another layer of protection by using millions of transparent electronic pixels embedded into a tiny spot on the credit card.

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When a laser beam strikes the pixels, the pattern can be matched against an identical one already stored in a computer, Javidi said. icon (179K/16 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

The tiny pixels also foil sophisticated copying machines. Counterfeiting is a billion-dollar problem for the credit card industry.

Javidi says his lab machinery could be scaled down to about half the size of a shoebox for commercial use and that the system is currently ready for commercial testing.

Within 10 years, he predicts the system to be in fairly wide use, from credit cards to computers to currency.

From Correspondent Dick Wilson  
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