Scam of the day – August 4, 2017 – Debit card fraud increasing

According to statistics of FICO, the company that created the credit scoring system used by banks and others to measure credit worthiness, debit card fraud increased by 26% between 2015 and 2016 and my belief is that the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.   A large part of the problem has been the failure of many companies to switch over to the more secure EMV chip credit and debit cards as required by industry guidelines that do not carry the weight of law.  While the date for retailers to switch to EMV chip credit and debit cards has long passed and the deadline for ATMs using MasterCard debit cards was last October, the date for gas pumps to implement EMV chip credit and debt card technology has been extended until 2020.  This gives identity thieves plenty of opportunities to install cheap and easy to obtain skimmers on ATMs, gas pumps and the card processing equipment of non-complying retailers to steal credit and debit card numbers to be used for fraudulent purposes.

However, the problem is much worse with debit cards.  The holder of a credit card used for fraudulent purposes cannot be assessed more than $50 for such use and most credit card companies charge nothing. However, the potential liability of a person whose debit card has been compromised can reach his or her entire bank account tied to the card if the card owner does not report the crime promptly and even if the card owner does report the theft promptly, the debit card owner’s access to his or her own bank account is frozen while the bank investigates the crime.


Consumers should refrain from using their debit cards for anything other than an ATM card. Use a credit card for all of your card purchases to achieve greater consumer protection.  In addition, you should regularly monitor the bank account tied to your debit card in order to discover as soon as possible if fraudulent use of your debit card has occurred so that you can report it to the bank and limit your liability.

Scam of the day – July 13, 2017 – Trump Hotels hit with data breach

For the third time in three years, Trump Hotels have been victimized by a major data breach, however, this time the data breach was of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, a reservation booking service used by Trump Hotels. The data breach which occurred between August 2016 and March 2017 affected fourteen Trump hotels.  Compromised information included guest names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers and credit card expiration dates.  If you stayed at a Trump Hotel during the time of the data breach, you should use this link provided by Trump Hotels to determine if your hotel was one of the compromised hotels.


If you were affected directly by this data breach, your credit card may be used for fraudulent purposes so you should monitor your credit card statements regularly and often.  This is also a good time to remind you that the laws that protect you from liability for fraudulent credit card use are much stronger than the laws that protect you if your debit card is fraudulently used.  You should not use your debit card for anything other than an ATM card.

Scam of the day – November 25, 2016 – Holiday scams

Today is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the kickoff to the 2016 holiday shopping season.  There are many scams that attempt to turn our holiday awareness into scams.  They include malware contaminated e-cards, phony charitable solicitations and, of course a myriad of shopping related scams.  Over the next few weeks, I will be warning you about these scams and telling you what you can do to protect yourselves.


For those people shopping in the malls and stores around the country today, remember to use your credit card  instead of your debit card. While federal law limits the amount for which you are liable when fraudulent charges are made using your credit card to no more than $50, with a debit card, if you do not recognize that your account has been compromised right away, the identity thief could potentially empty the entire bank account tied to your debit card.  In addition, even if you do notice the fraudulent use immediately, your account will be frozen while the bank does its investigation into the matter, thereby limiting your access to your funds.

Also, if you are using your credit card in a store that is not equipped to take the EMV chip credit card, be on the lookout for skimmers, which are small devices that a criminal uses to steal your credit card information by swiping the card through a portable skimmer before running it through the store’s credit card processing equipment.  In addition, some skimmers are surreptitiously installed on the credit card equipment of the stores and other times, the store’s processing equipment has been hacked to steal this information as your card is being processed. Keep an eye on your credit card every minute that the clerk has it in his or her possession to make sure that he or she only swipes it through the store’s credit card processor and doesn’t do that extra swipe through a skimmer.  Also, check your credit card account balance periodically online to detect if there have been any security breaches.  Don’t wait for your monthly statement.