Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Readers of these posts are familiar with ATM skimming. ATM skimming is a billion dollar problem and growing. A relatively new scam over the past few years is electronic funds transfers at the point of sale (EFTPOS ) skimming. People commonly swipe both credit and debit cards through the in-store machines to pay for goods and services at these outlets. In Australia, Fast-food, convenience and specialist clothing stores are bearing the brunt of the crime. McDonald’s is among the outlets whose EFTPOS machines have been targeted.
Last year, legitimate EFTPOS devices at McDonald’s outlets across Perth Australia were replaced with compromised card-skimming versions, with 3500 customers cheated of $4.5 million. They actually replaced the entire device you see at the counter when you order your Big Mac!
Officials say the problem is so bad they urged people to change credit and debit card pin numbers weekly to avoid the possibility of having their account balances wiped out, as it was likely more cases would be identified.
In the United States a similar scam was pulled off at the Stop and Shop Supermarket chain.
“One reason POS machines are so vulnerable is that nearly all of the estimated 12 million devices in the U.S. employ a 40-year-old magnetic stripe technology that industry experts say is largely defenseless against the high-tech wizardry available to fraudsters today. These experts say that thieves can buy skimming gadgetry on the open market. Right now you can walk into a computer store in Malaysia and buy one of these devices for about $200”
The solution to this type of crime may be with authenticating the card or the card holder. Today this is out of the hands of the consumer. There are a number of new technologies that if banks/retailers/industries adopt to identify the actual card/user at the POS or even online, then most, if not all, of the card fraud problems will be solved. There is a race going on right now to see who gets there first. In the next 1-5 years we may see new cards being issued such as “chip and pin” which are standard in Europe. Or no new cards at all but changes in the system that identifies a fraudulent card making the data useless to the thief, or a 2 card system that requires a second swipe of another authenticating card the hacker doesn’t have access to. We will see how this all plays out.
You can’t protect yourself from these types of scams. However, by paying attention to your statements and refuting any unauthorized transactions within 60 days, you can recover your losses. When using any POS, pay close attention to details, and look for anything that seems out of place. If your card gets stuck in the machine or you notice anything odd about the appearance of the machine, such as wires, or error messages, don’t use it.
1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE
3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.
4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing ATM skimming on ExtraTV