Scam of the day – October 29, 2017 – Twelve people indicted in gas pump skimmer scam

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio recently announced the indictment of twelve people alleged to have installed skimmers at gas pumps in Ohio, Colorado, Maryland and Utah in order to steal credit card information used to create phony credit cards with which they made fraudulent purchases.

Skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on gas pumps,  ATMs and other card reading devices.  The skimmer steals all of the information from old style magnetic strip credit card or debit cards which then enables the identity thief to use that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card.  If a credit card is used, the identity thief can use the stolen information to access the victim’s credit card account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.

MasterCard and Visa announced in December of 2016 that the deadline for the installation of EMV chip card readers on gas pumps was being delayed three years to October 1, 2020.  Credit card rules required EMV smart chip credit card equipment be installed by retailers to process these cards by October 1, 2015 in order for the retailer to avoid liability.   Wider implementation of the use of EMV chip cards at retailers has resulted in a dramatic reduction in data breaches and credit card fraud at retailers using this equipment.   The deadline for the installation of EMV chip card readers at gas pumps was originally scheduled for October 1, 2017.  Around the country there has been an increase in the use of skimmers installed by criminals at gas pumps.

TIPS

Always look for signs of tampering on any machine you use to swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, when compromised through a skimmer put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if the theft is not promptly reported and even if the victim reports the theft immediately, the victim loses access to his or her bank account while the matter is investigated by the bank. Debit cards should not be used for purchases at gas pumps or for other retail purchases because the legal liability laws related to stolen debit card information are not as protective to consumers as the laws relating to fraudulent credit card use.

Scam of the day – April 22, 2016 – Epidemic of ATM skimmers

As regular readers of Scamicide know, skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on ATMs and other card reading devices, such as at gas pumps.  The skimmer steals all of the information from the credit card or debit card used which then permits the identity thief to use that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card.  If a credit card is used, the identity thief can use the stolen information to access the victim’s credit card account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.  Recently, FICO Card Alert Service, a company that monitors ATM activity on behalf of banks issued a report indicating that last year the use of skimmers on ATMs increased by 600% over the previous year.

TIPS

Always look for signs of tampering on any machine you use to swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, when compromised through a skimmer put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if they do not report the theft promptly and even if they report the theft immediately, they will lose access to their bank account while the matter is investigated by the bank.  Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture the victim’s PIN to enable the identity thief to access the account of the victim whose account number was captured through the skimmer.  Debit cards should not be used for purchases at gas pumps or for other retail purchases because the legal liability laws related to stolen debit card information are not as protective as the laws relating to fraudulent credit card use.  The FICO Card Alert Service report noted that 60% of the skimmer attacks were done on private, non-bank ATMS so you may wish to avoid those ATMS when possible.

Credit card rules required the use of new EMV smart chip credit card equipment by retailers to process these cards by October 1, 2015 in order for the retailer to avoid liability.   These rules, however, do not apply to the use of credit or debit cards at ATMs and gas pumps where the deadline to switch to the EMV smart cards is not until October 1, 2017 so you can expect identity thieves to continue to focus their attention on gas pumps and ATMs.

Scam of the day – February 18, 2016 – Government issues warning about gas pump skimmers

Recently the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Division of Standards issued a warning to all of the state’s gas station owners about the increased use of skimmers at gas pumps throughout the state.  Although this warning was made only to Massachusetts gas station owners, the warning is relevant to gas stations across the country as skimmers at gas pumps have become a major threat.   Skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on ATMs and other card reading devices, such as at gas pumps.  The skimmer steals all of the information from the credit card or debit card used which then permits the identity thief to use that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card.  If a credit card is used, the identity thief can use the stolen information to access the victim’s credit card account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.

TIPS

Always look for signs of tampering on any machine you use to swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, when compromised through a skimmer put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if they do not report the theft promptly and even if they report the theft immediately, they will lose access to their bank account while the matter is investigated by the bank.  Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture the victim’s PIN to enable the identity thief to access the account of the victim whose account number was captured through the skimmer.  Debit cards should not be used for purchases at gas pumps or for other retail purchases because the legal liability laws related to stolen debit card information are not as protective as the laws relating to fraudulent credit card use.

Credit card rules required the use of new EMV smart chip credit card equipment to be installed by retailers to process these cards by October 1, 2015 in order for the retailer to avoid liability.   These rules, however, do not apply to the use of credit or debit cards at ATMs and gas pumps where the deadline to switch to the EMV smart cards is not until October 1, 2017 so you can expect identity thieves to continue to focus their attention on gas pumps.

Scam of the day – November 1, 2015 – New ATM technology being developed

Skimmers at ATMs have been a lucrative tool for scammers in recent years.   Skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on ATMs and other card reading devices, such as at gas pumps.  The skimmer steals all of the information from the credit card or debit card which then permits the identity thief to access that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card attached to a bank account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.  Citigroup just announced that it is working with ATM manufacturer Diebold on a new ATM that would scan your iris to authorize the ATM to provide a cash amount that you select through the bank’s app on your smartphone.  Thus you never have to swipe a card.  Other banks including J.P. Morgan and Bank of America have also been testing cardless ATMs, as well.  Certainly we will not be seeing a wholesale changeover from the familiar card swiping ATMs in the near future, but the use of biometrics, such as iris scanners present a promising alternative to ATMs that are easily hackable.

TIPS

For now, however, you should always be on the look out for skimmers at any ATM you use.  Look for signs of tampering on any machine through which you swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, which are used at ATMs when compromised through a skimmer put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if the theft is not reported  promptly.   Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture the victim’s PIN to enable the identity thief to access the account of the victim whose account number was captured through the skimmer.  Other times there will be cameras installed by the scammers to record the person putting their PIN into the key pad.  Therefore it is a good idea to shield the keypad with your hand while you put in your PIN.