Tag Archives: Card fraud

National Cyber Security Awareness Month – Beware of Skimmers!

Lets face it; technology is everywhere in our daily lives. So much so that we have gotten to the point where we use it without a thought. Hackers and thieves depend on a certain level of laziness to victimize people using card skimmers.

Everyday millions of Africans-Americans pull out their debit or credit card and swipe it. We swipe it for gas, food, clothes, medicine, every conceivable purchase. But are we aware of how vulnerable your money, and even your financial life, is when you swipe your card?

One of the most prolific, and easiest,  cyber crimes is the use of skimmers. A skimmer is a small device that is almost invisible to the naked eye. It is placed inside credit card readers. When you swipe your card through the reader the device records the information on your credit/debit card and transmits it to criminals. These skimmers can be found anywhere you use a credit card. The gas station, a convenience store or even an ATM. As I said already, spotting these little devices is very difficult. Sometimes the thieves will mount a skimmer over a card scanner. Sometimes they can gain access to the machine and mount the device inside. These cyber criminals are so good that they can even build skimmers with key pads that record your PIN and you would never know you were using it.

Newer credit and debit cards have what’s known as the EMV or chip and PIN cards. These are much more secure because they transmit transaction data encrypted. But those are not 100% secure either.

After they get your information they may decide to empty your bank account or max out your credit card on a  shopping spree. Its calledcard not present fraud.”

So how do you detect a card skimmer?

If you investigate the device you can sometimes spot a skimmer. Here are a few tips.

  1. Look for tampering. Check the device for any sign that it has been tampered with. Check top, bottom and both sides of an ATM. Check the card reader and the keyboard.
  2. Does it look right? Do you recognize it? If it is your bank ATM does it look different, such as a different color or material, graphics that aren’t quite correct or anything else that doesn’t look right. Be alert and paranoid about any machine. 
  3. If you’re at the bank and there is more than one ATM compare them. Look for obvious differences between the two? They should be identical.  If not alert the bank and police immediately.
  4. Check that  keyboard. Is it too thick? Is it loose or just does not look like it fits right? There may be a PIN-snatching overlay. Don’t use it.

    Fake ATM keypad

    5. Push, pull, jiggle everything. ATM’s are pretty sturdy so it should feel solid. Card skimmers and fake key pads are installed quickly and if you pull on one it may come off in your hand.

6. Another good practice is to hide your hand when entering your PIN. Some hackers use tiny cameras mounted above the ATM to record your PIN. Use one hand to cover the other when entering your PIN.

A card skimmer can be anywhere. You need to be alert and look for any signs that something is wrong. Be aware of gas pumps that might have been tampered with. This is a favorite hacker target. Why? Because they have a high volume of traffic and are not closely monitored. A good crook can install a card skimmer in seconds and come back for it in a few minutes having collected data from several cards. He may do this at several gas stations in a single day.

But the criminal may not come back for the skimmer at all. In the past skimmers had memory chips that required criminals to come back and retrieve the device. No more. The newest skimmers can transmit the information via Bluetooth or text message to the criminals computer. They can install the skimmer and record for hours. And you don’t have to build these devices. You can easily buy these devices on the web where they are sold openly.

But you can fight back. Your smartphone can detect these Bluetooth skimmers. When you arrive at a gas pump or any location using a self-serve card machine whip out your smartphone and  go to settings. Turn on the Bluetooth and have it search for sources. If a you see a string of suspicious numbers come up do not swipe your card in that pump or ATM. Report it to the police and store management immediately.

There are also apps that can detect skimmers. Skimmer Scanner is currently available for Android phones and it can detect the presence of a skimmer on a card swipe machine. The Skimmer Scanner app checks for nearby Bluetooth transmissions and alerts you when one is detected.

Now you know.

How Safe is that ATM?

Remember the good ol’ days when ATM security meant making sure you didn’t get mugged. Well those days aren’t exactly gone. You still have to be careful. But the crooks are now using card skimmers, fake keypads and other devices to rob you. So how safe is that ATM?

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

ATM security nowadays means understanding how criminals are using technology to rob you. Its time to learn their methods and technology.

 

 

 

 

Remember that ATM machines do not have to belong to a bank or any financial institution. The can be privately owned by a person or business. There is even an organization of private ATM owners known as the National ATM Council. And you can find websites that show you how to set up your own network. Would you like to buy your own ATM? It’s that simple.

viral4real.com

Fake ATM key pad Courtesy viral4real.com


So how do you spot a fake or suspicious ATM?

  • Avoid standalone ATMs in suspicious locations. Be alert to brand names you are not familiar with.
  • A legitimate ATM machine is very secure. Since they contain cash they will be bolted and secured to a wall or floor. Free standing ATM machines that can be easily moved are to be avoided.
  • Clever criminals will sometimes place their crooked ATM next to a legitimate ATM then place an out of order sign on the legitimate one. That could indicate that the one with the sign may actually be the working ATM.  The out-of-order sign could trick you into using the criminal’s machine. Be aware!
  • Check the card slot and key pad. Is either loose or out of place?  That ATM may have been tampered with.  Check the card reader slot and key pad by trying to remove it. Yank or pull on it. It may come off in your hand. If so you have found a skimmer.  Legitimate ATM machines don’t have loose or removable parts.
  • Look for a micro camera or any other out of place device used to record your PIN.
  • Look for ATM machines with open or loose side panels or broken locks especially at drive through ATMs. Don’t use it and report a suspicious ATM to the bank immediately.
  • Check your balances daily and make sure there are no suspicious charges related to ATM use. Report any strange activity immediately.
  • Report suspicious activity around an ATM machine to the police.

Now you know

EMV is Coming! EMV is Coming!

chipcardOctober is EMV card month. And what is EMV? Currently there are 1.96 billion credit cards in circulation and they are about to change. Black people all over America are walking around with a credit or debit card in their purse or wallet. So we need to know and understand what EMV is and how it will change the landscape of credit card use starting in October. So lets get started.

First of all next month the way you use your credit or debit card will change. The first thing that will change is the card itself. America is the last major market on earth to switch to the chip embedded card. Why? The short answer is laziness, stupidity or ignorance by all involved. If you have not already received your chip embedded card now is the time to call your bank or card provider and ask when you should expect it.

The new card is called the EMV which stands for  Europay MasterCard VISA after the people who invented it. The first noticeable difference in the new card will be the chip, which is the small silver or gold chip embedded in the front of the card. Because of this chip the card should be more secure than the current magnetic stripe card you may still be carrying. Magnetic stripe cards save static payment data that can be copied, stolen or skimmed from one card and put onto another. This duplicate card data is then used to make all kinds of fraudulent purchases. Magnetic strip cards are simply outdated and notoriously insecure. The EMV technology adds a layer of security to the payment process.

EMV card readerf

EMV Card Reader

The EMV card works a little differently. The chip you see on your card has encrypted data. EMV card readers can read that data. Each purchase made with an EMV card creates a individual code unique to that particular purchase. If a hacker got a hold of that code he would not able to use it. You should be seeing the card readers in stores already. Once you slide your card into the reader, no more swiping, powerful cryptographic functions validate the authenticity of the card and cardholder. Bottom line is the encryption makes it extremely difficult to create a duplicate or fake card. But keep in mind that the magnetic strip is not likely to disappear from cards. Many small merchants will continue to use the old style card reader.

When you pay using the EMV card reader your card is instantly identified as being authentic by a process called dynamic authentication. When used with a PIN, the chip proves that the customer is paying with his or her own card.

Another change coming in October is the liability shift. A liability shift means that the responsibility for credit card fraud shifts slightly from just the card issuer to a shared liability of both the issuer or merchant that doesn’t use EMV technology. This change provides both parties with an incentive to adopt the technology. However it is not required that either party switch to the new technology. Why? Lets keep this as simple as possible; some issuers and merchants may still feel it is cheaper to take a loss on card fraud than to invest in the new technology. Is that simple enough for you?

NerdWallet’s Sean McQuay, a credit card expert and former VISA strategy analyst says, “EMV is a powerful tool, but it’s only effective if both consumers and merchants are ready to use it for transactions. Consumers need chip cards and merchants need chip readers. If only one side has upgraded to EMV for a specific transaction, then the upgrade was a waste.”

But will EMV solve all of our card security concerns? Probably not. This new technology is great but not perfect.

For example; in person transactions would definitely be more secure. Not so with thecard not presenttype of transaction such as purchases by phone or online. Using your card at the gas pump will continue to be dangerous since gas pumps aren’t required to implement the new technology until 2017. So this type of fraud is expected to increase.

So learn to protect yourself. Hackers are going to be going after those store that don’t use the new EMV card and card readers. That’s the first place you are vulnerable. Avoid those stores whenever possible by keeping a little extra cash in your pocket. And demand the new card from your bank or issuer. If they have decided not to go with the new technology then you may want to got with an institution that does.When shopping online avoid unfamiliar or unsecure websites. When you see “https” at the beginning of the payment page’s URL that means it is a secure payment site. Avoid it if you only see “http.” Change your user name and password regularly if you store your card information with any online retailers. Avoid sending credit card information via email or social media. 

Finally, criminals work hard too steal your money. The technology arms war n isever ending and hackers have already developed methods for hacking the EMV cards. Read on!

Here is more of what you need to know about the new EMV card technology.

Federal Reserve say Chip and Signature Not Enough.

Bad Guys Already Compromising Chip and PIN Cards

Now you know.

Black Consumers; Is Cash a Safer Option?

Courtesy of cooldesign

Courtesy of cooldesign

Is it time to go back to cash? In this age of technology and electronic payments the value of money has not changed. However the vulnerability of money has increased exponentially. I say it all the time but you’re about to hear it again; Black people don’t play when it comes to money! So again I ask; Is it time to go back to cash?

At least one nation is considering the move to a completely cashless economy. Denmark is about to become the world’s first cashless nationThat nation’s government is pushing to free some stores, restaurants and gasoline stations from accepting cash payments at all. The government is hoping to get rid of the option to pay by cash by as early as 2016.

But is that a wise move? That is Europe not the U.S. And the potential for fraud is just as great there as it is here. So why do it?

Danish banker association, Finansraadet, claims that going cashless would save retailers money on security, in addition to time when counting money at the end of the day. But is that saving enough? Has the electronic payments systems become secure enough to make this move safe?

Maybe not.  There is fear that with electronic transactions, the risk of fraud will also rise. Those opposed to the cashless economy have cited the unfortunate case of  another European nation, Sweden. That nation has the highest number of bank transactions per person in the European Union. That nation has also seen fraud double in the past 10 years.

Last year, Juniper Research forecast that payments by smartphone would hit 9.9 billion by 2018, with one in five phones acting as digital wallets. But is that the right move for American consumers, or African-American consumers?

Black consumers possess buying power in $1 trillion dollar range. We have the ability to affect the U.S. economy with our buying choices and spending practices.  Is moving to cash a way to send a message to both the retail and technology sectors? Can we demand better security? We should.

But lets be real for a minute. We have seen that the use of electronic payments is only marginally safe in the U.S. We have extreme problems protecting our electronic payment system as seen by hacks at Target, Home Depot and most recently Sally’s Beauty Supply. The math of the situation is not on the side of the consumer. And executives of the payments and retail industry do the math. What math? The math that tells them that it is still cheaper to pay off fraud claims than it is to invest in safer technology and systems to protect our money. The AACR has written about this before.

Like most consumers black people patronize small businesses. And although we hear a lot about the really big data breaches we don’t hear too much about the small ones. Small businesses are probably more vulnerable to data theft than larger companies. It is estimated that for every major data breach that hits the news there are dozens, even hundreds, of smaller breaches that are rarely heard of. According to the National Small Business Association , 44 percent of all small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, with the average cost of the incident costing just less than $9,000. That’s nearly half of all small businesses. Did you hear about the data breach at the bakery down the street? Probably not but your payment information may have been lost. Did they report it? Do they even know they were hacked?

Another danger to electronic payment is the infamous card reader or skimmer fraud. Card skimmers are nearly invisible devices that attach to ATM’s, gas pumps and other places where you swipe your card for self service purchases. The skimmer records your card data and PIN number for cyber thieves. Card skimming is a major problem in the U.S. and around the world. Estimates of funds stolen has reached into the tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone.

Is cash the answer? Can it make some commerce safer? Possibly but in the age of electronic commerce using cash for some transactions is almost impossible. Shopping online is one obvious answer. Electronic commerce is fast and convenient. But there are  situations where cash or a written check is better and more secure.

Cash may be the answer in the age of repeated data breaches and electronic fraud. Black consumers may wish to consider the $200 rule. If an item is less than $200 then pay cash. Limit your use of credit and debit card to larger purchases. Keep at least that amount in your wallet weekly. Use that cash for buying gas, groceries and other need now items. This practice will limit your exposure to possible credit or debit fraud. If you decide to move to cash you should also ask for new credit and debit cards. Ask for a card that contains the new EMV chip. Getting new cards will nullify old payment information in retailers computers and reduce your vulnerability to fraud.

Keep in mind that cash is still the dominant form of payment even today. Black consumers today should raise their awareness of how cyber crime works and how they are vulnerable. Using credit and debit cards regularly raises your chance of eventually being a victim in a data breach if you are not already.

Now you know.