Student travel card fraud exposed

20th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 July 2006, AMSTERDAM – Public transport companies are suffering millions of euros in damage because students are using their student travel cards fraudulently, said Dutch Rail on Thursday. The railways were the worst affected, and would be introducing checks using computer lists in the autumn to combat the fraud, the company said.

20 July 2006

AMSTERDAM – Public transport companies are suffering millions of euros in damage because students are using their student travel cards fraudulently, said Dutch Rail on Thursday. The railways were the worst affected, and would be introducing checks using computer lists in the autumn to combat the fraud, the company said.

The student travel card entitles students to free travel as long as they are registered to study. Students have been using a trick for years to travel longer than they are entitled to on public transport in the Netherlands, the company revealed.

The trick involves reporting the card stolen in order to get a second one. Normally students have to hand in their travel cards to the Informatie Beheer Groep (IB-G) in Groningen, which administers the system, when they stop studying. But with the second, new card still in their wallets they can continue to travel for free the rest of the year.

Dutch Rail was unable to give exact figures for the damage it suffered from the fraud but said that it could lose “some millions every year” to the practice. The IB-Groep said that it was not clear how many of the 29,000 duplicates issued during 2005 were fraudulently applied for.

"It’s impossible to check," a spokesman said. "We know that there are students who using travel cards on false pretences in this way, but it’s impossible to know if someone is acting in good faith or not. All we have to go on are the official documents that we receive when a new card has been applied for."

Dutch Rail presently conducts spot checks on the use of the cards, but said that it will carry out extra checks using computer lists. A new travel card, to be introduced in phases next year, will have a chip that will make fraud impossible, the Dutch Rail spokesman said.

Tracking down travel card fraudsters in the meantime was a “collective responsibility”, the spokesman added. “Dutch Rail and the IB-Groep will have to look for a solution. The students themselves, of course, are really responsible. We’re talking about fraud, which is a crime. The fact that the [present] system is easy to get around doesn’t mean that everyone has carte blanche to abuse it."

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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