With the holiday season in full gear, with huge crowds, long wait lines and short fuses, it’s more likely you won’t pay attention to the details on how your credit card and ATM card may be stolen right in front of your eyes.
We are not talking about the theft of your physical card, but just a quick swipe of your card’s magnetic stripe. For your PIN number on your ATM bank card, the “eye in the sky” is watching and stealing your secret code. Enough to do damage if you don’t check your monthly statements on your bank account or credit card…. after it’s too late.
Two-factor authentication security is defined as something you own and something you know. The ATM cards uses a PIN, whereas a credit card uses the 3 digit CVS on the back of the card.
Fraudulent credit card numbers are used to make counterfeit replicas of your original card, or used in online shopping. Fraudulent ATM info – your PIN and bank card information – are commonly used for pre-paid gift cards, which are much easier to duplicate and program the magnetic stripe. They won’t get greedy with a single $10,000 withdrawal. Just some $500 purchases twenty times over.
Your account may be frozen once they max out your credit card or drain your bank account.
Until the paperwork has settled, if you don’t have a second card or second bank account, you might find yourself strapped for cash, literally!
Here are 3 common ways thieves may try to gain access to your personal information.
The Hidden Camera
1. The box next to the ATM machine is holding an innocent box of envelopes or brochures, right? Wrong. In this case, there is a hidden camera as you punch your secret PIN onto the bank keypad. The thieves are actually nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted from the hidden wireless camera in the front of the ATM!
Another method is a fake speaker installed above the ATM machine.
This method is required to gain access to your PIN; again, something only you would know.
The Secondary Swiper or “Skimmer” – requires only one swipe
2. Thieves can install a secondary skimmer on top of the regular slot. This face plate is the same colour and design of the real slot, so it is hard to detect.
The External Skimmer
3. The is a personal device that is so small, it can be done right in front of your eyes, or under the counter when you aren’t looking. It is small enough to even hold in one hand.
This method requires 2 swipes: one fraud on the skimmer without your knowledge, and one real one on the real transaction machine.
Tips for the every day shopper and consumer
1. Keep you eyes on your card at all times. Don’t let the cashier say, “Oh, there’s a problem with this machine, I’ll have to swipe it onto another machine”. If you lose the sight of your card as it disappears below the counter, stop and pay cash. Of course, This may be hard at your upscale shirt and tie restaurant, so use your discretion.
On a related note, as much as I love and hate the Fry’s Computer store, they are not allowed to swipe the same card for 2 different purchases. The 2nd purchase with the same card must have the impression – the old style click-click method on carbon paper. This is to prevent fraud. Imagine, the first purchase being a $19.99 mouse, and the second one a $2000 laptop.
2. Your card should be easy to insert and easy to take out. If you notice you have a hard time taking out your ATM or credit card, where it gets jammed, or the swipe feels harder to pull out than normal, chances are it’s been compromised.
3. Get another credit card with the lowest possible credit limit and use that card ONLY for online shopping. Refuse all credit limit increases.
4. Monitor your billing statement closely each month and make sure any new transactions were actually made by you or your spouse. You can even check it online on a weekly basis.
5. Taxi cabs and Pizza delivery guys could potentially be more dangerous, as not only do they have your card number and PIN, they have your home address as well. All they need is your birthday and SSN/SIN (social security number/social insurance number) and you’re toast.
6. This is the obvious, but memorize your PIN. Never write your PIN on your credit card, or on a piece of paper that you have to fumble around while at the ATM machine.
7. Request a credit report at least once per year. Scan through and double check anything that looks fraudulent or strange.
Monitor your credit report. It contains your SSN, present and prior employers, a listing of all account numbers, including those that have been closed, and your overall credit score.
8. Subscribe to a credit report monitoring service that will notify you whenever someone applies for credit in your name.
9. When possible, use the ATM that belongs to your Bank, so as you won’t be confused with the interface. Also, use ATM’s inside a bank where they are less likely to be tampered with
10. The sooner you detect the fraud, the easier it is to recover from it. Avoid the hassles that can result from identity theft!
Identity theft can happen anywhere to anyone, while waiting in line at the shopping center store or shopping online at home. Having your credit card or ATM card stolen is one thing, if your identity is stolen, you can spend hundreds of hours cleaning up your credit. Stolen identities are used over and over again, as they are sold in the black market.
Keep Your Eye on Your ATM and credit card at all times!
And Merry Christmas, everyone!