July 23, 2008 / 9:47 PM / 9 years ago

Visa Canada probes reports of fraud at airport

TORONTO (Reuters) - Visa Canada on Wednesday said it was investigating possible fraud tied to air travel, with news reports specifying that there may be problems at self-service check-in kiosks at Toronto’s Pearson International airport.

“Visa Canada is currently investigating isolated reports of fraud that have a correlation with air travel, in particular at a Canadian airport,” the company said in a statement.

“We are working with airport officials and the airlines to investigate the situation.”

Scott Armstrong, a spokesman for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which runs Pearson International Airport, said that none of the airport’s kiosks are being taken out of service.

But WestJet (WJA.TO), the country’s second-largest airline, said it had decided to disable the credit-card check-in feature on the kiosks that it uses at airports across Canada as a temporary measure.

“There is an investigation being conducted by Visa together with the GTAA with respect to potential credit card fraud,” said Richard Bartrem, a vice president at WestJet.

“We’ve decided to take the proactive measure of temporarily disabling the credit card portion of that check-in process while this investigation is ongoing.”

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada owner ACE Aviation ACEa.TO, said that the largest airline had no plans to take similar action to West Jet‘s.

Most airline customers use other methods of identification when they use the kiosks, such as a passport, reservation number, or online check-in, rather than their credit card, both Fitzpatrick and Bartrem said.

The Globe and Mail newspaper said on Wednesday that an investigation of suspected credit-card fraud at the airport, Canada’s busiest, was focusing on the security of its 150 self-service check-in kiosks.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority owns the kiosk hardware, while the software connects to the airlines, spokesman Armstrong noted, adding that the airport operator is cooperating with the credit card issuer’s investigation.

A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were not involved in the probe.

Reporting by Lynne Olver; Editing by Frank McGurty

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