The Financial Services Agency urged financial institutions Tuesday to step up efforts to tackle cash card forgeries.

The move comes as a new study shows that 90 percent of such crimes have been reported in the Kanto region.

The FSA released a package of recommendations, including lowering the limit on deposit withdrawals at automated teller machines as well as introducing biometric identification systems and bank cards embedded with integrated circuits.

The agency asked the financial institutions to submit specific plans by the end of March.

It worked out the recommendations after conducting a survey on crimes involving forged cash cards. The survey found 208 forgery cases at 33 financial institutions, involving the theft of 803 million yen, as of the end of September.

In 95 percent of the cases, the money was stolen over a period of three days or less, but only 25 percent of the victims were aware of such withdrawals in that same time frame, the survey found.

The survey also showed that only 10 percent of customers were compensated by their financial institutions for losses.

Another feature of cash card forgery is that 90 percent of such crimes were concentrated in the Kanto region centering on Tokyo and that about 40 percent of depositors had used personal identification numbers related to their birth dates.

The FSA urged banks to encourage depositors to change their PINs frequently. It also wants banks to take steps to protect customers from having their PINs seen while operating ATMs.

The FSA set up a council of legal and computer network experts to come up with minimum standards for financial institutions over antiforgery measures and compensation for victims.

The agency plans to release a final report by the end of April.

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