New Jersey regulators are tightening safeguards to prevent fraud and identity theft at the electronic kiosks where casino customers use their credit and debit cards for cash withdrawals.

A new regulation taking effect this month requires stricter security steps before customers can get their cash from the companies that operate the kiosks, said David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Rebuck, whose agency oversees the 12 Atlantic City casinos, said law enforcement continues to prosecute credit-card fraud and identity theft, but he wanted stronger preventative measures to protect casino customers.

“We’ve prosecuted people. We catch them. But I want to be in a position where we are one step ahead of the person who commits the fraud or criminal activity,” he said in a recent interview.

Rebuck said the casinos and kiosk operators fully support the tougher standards, which take the form of a temporary regulation on Jan. 29 and will become permanent 270 days later, after a 60-day period for public comment and final rulemaking.

“I don’t think we’ll have any dispute with it,” he said. “We’ve had no negative action.”

Rebuck characterized credit-card fraud and identity theft as a national problem, not one confined just to the casinos. He noted that the banks and financial institutions that issue or back the credit cards are the ones that lose the money during fraudulent transactions at the casinos.

“So, it’s really beating the banks. The financial loss to the casinos is minimal,” he said.

New safeguards at the kiosks are similar to security steps in place at the casino cashier windows, known as “cages,” where customers can also use their credit cards to access money, he said.

Once customers use their credit or debit cards at the kiosks to make electronic cash transfers, they will have to go through a whole new batch of security checks before they are given their money.

Among the requirements, cardholders must present valid identification, including a photo. They may also be asked a series of questions to verify their identity, such as their ZIP codes or birth dates.

“We call them ‘kill questions,’’’ Rebuck said. “If any of them are answered incorrectly, the transaction is canceled.”

In addition, a facial image and thumb print of the cardholder will be kept at the casino cages and the kiosk operators to aid in identification.

The new regulation also establishes reporting requirements for suspicious or fraudulent cash access transactions.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:

609-272-7258