MTA Deactivating Some Unlimited MetroCards to Prevent Fraud


NEW YORK—Using your unlimited MetroCard too many times at the same station could cause it to be shut out by the system assuming it’s fraud.

It’s not a completely rare occurrence, says Andrew Albert, chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council, as it has been brought to his attention.

The measure is set by the MTA to prevent people from selling rides off an unlimited Metrocard. When the system shuts out a card, it’s assuming someone is standing by the turnstile, selling rides every 18 minutes.

But this can happen on occasion to a regular rider, Albert said. Messengers, for instance, may use the same subway station several times a day for their work.

MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz confirmed the system would automatically detect cases where the card was used at the same station very frequently. “That is why we deactivate cards when there is time-based fraud,” Oritz said.

If the system detects a case of fraud, as in an infrequently high number of uses in the same station within a period of time, the card would stop working.

Oritz could not confirm a number or time frame that would cause automatic deactivation by the system. He added customers using the cards legitimately had little cause for concern of deactivation.

Brendan McNulty of NY Minute Messenger & Trucking says he hasn’t heard complaints of deactivated Metrocards from his messengers for a few years now. His messengers can use the same card at a same station up to 15 times a day.

Joe Halada of messenger service Quik Trak said the only cases of their cards not working had been because of magnetic strip defects, so it has not been a problem for his messengers.

Nick Racioppo with NPD Logistics says it’s highly frequent that a messenger’s Metrocard will stop working, sometimes without defect.

“I say once a month at least one of my guys complains,” Racaioppo said. His messengers similarly can use their cards around 15 times a day. However, they have not always been able to determine the cause of card deactivation.

In the past, they have tried asking the MTA, but “we don’t get any [responses]” Racioppo said.



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