Scam Report: Dangers of Swiping
In these days, innovators have made it convenient for people to obtain, exchange, and process information. Even payment is as easy as holding up your smart phone to a payment processor at your local grocer.
But with new, easy-to-use technology comes a looming dark cloud of malcontent.
Many have seen the reports from their local media: “Don’t pay at the pump!” Yes. Paying at the pump is risky due to the hold a bank will put on their customer’s account when swiped at the pump. Such a risk minor compared to a scammer who install skimmers on gas pumps.
What’s a skimmer?
Skimmers (known as Credit Card Reader) are those pieces of electronic equipment that collect debit/credit card information in order to purchase the things we need and love. This inventive item can be purchased online and even at some local stores. It’s perfectly legal and it’s not unusual, entrepreneurs use them in their businesses to remain versatile to their customers.
However, some have turned skimmers as vehicles to scam.
Since the public sale of skimmers, many consumers have fallen victim to identity fraud due to scammers who use skimmers to record debit and credit card information.
Here’s how it works:
- A scammer will swipe your card through a skimmer (not provided by their employer).
- The information on your card is recorded and collected into computer or any device that can hold data.
- The scammer takes the information and uses it online.
Scammers often use skimmers at gas pumps. They use a universal key, which you can buy online, to unlock the gas pump. Then, they install a skimmer behind the pump.
But how can a scammer use your information offline?
A few days ago, a California woman confronted a Starbucks employee who stole her debit/credit information and used it to make a $200 purchase at a store in her local area. See the unedited confrontation here.
Scammers can actually purchase blank credit cards. These cards are PVC cards, which are sold on sites like EBay and Amazon. They’re made from the same material as debit and credit cards. In addition, they contain the magnetic strip on the back.
In order for the card to work, the scammer has to program the card.
Also, the scammer will use something called Credit Card Embosser. This machine allows the scammer to engrave your debit/credit information onto a blank PVC card creating a counterfeit version of the original.
At first glance, most establishments won’t examine it closely, they’ll just swipe the card.
And scammers will opt to use credit selection at a processor to prevent from entering a pin number.
To fight against this kind of theft, debit/credit card companies have installed the microchip into cards making them easier to track if fraud were ever to occur.
Tips on how to avoid skim scams:
- Don’t pay at the pump. Always pay inside. Be sure to examine the location of the skimmer inside a business. If its obscured from surveillance, pay with cash.
- Don’t allow cashiers, tellers, etc. to walk away from your sight when at the drive-thru. If they need receipt paper, ask for your card back first. Be vigilant! It’s your money!
- In bar-restaurants like Applebee’s. Position yourself where you can see the payment processor. Alert the manager of any suspicious activity.
- Monitor your finances frequently, if you believe you’ve come across a skim-scam. Notify your bank of any inconsistencies.
Most importantly, anyone who sees any scammer should report it to police even it’s only a five cents taken out of your account. We must tough on crooks who want to take our hard earned money.