Emboldening nasty instincts to procure data, hidden and secured on card, illegally, Credit Card Skimmers are unwarranted by-products of tech sophistication and needless to say, card data secured illicitly is most likely to be used to accomplish fraudulent transactions (unlike Robin Hood type who would rob rich to compensate poor) !!) Most often, such are circuitry mingled with the card reading devices resulting in free channelizing of our critical data that is opened up before all and sundry.
Presenting a handful of precautions one has to keep in mind, so as to drive on safer seat and to avoid any skimming intent.
How Do Credit Card Skimmers operate?
In simple words, such is just like any other device that captures the data stream positioned onto the magnetic stripe of our credit card or debit card, when we slide it into a (corrupted) card reader, at any retail point or at ATM and at any such locations. Following the swipe, credit card number, expiration data, and card holder’s name also slipped out and get stored in the skimmer. Dreadfully, such stripes are also placed onto the cards enabled by chips.
What to look for, when our credit card is skimmed?
Tom Kellermann, head of cyber-security strategist for a firm VMWare Carbon Black comments on possible misuse of such type of data that stolen data is manipulated in way of lavish online spending then such data can be sold too in unlawful markets while there are minds, cunning enough to carve out fake cards.
Going by the observation made by Fraud Watch International which is a prestigious agency for internet security and enjoys towering expertise in online fraud detection and phishing, on the possible mismanagement of skimmed data:
- Such data can be transferred to other countries and such info is likely to be replicated onto fake cards,
- Such is widely used for online purchases or call-based purchases, which is known as card not present fraud.
- Such info can also be exploited for the purpose of stealing identity and this takes place when a dodger desperately looks forward to such stolen data comprising personal strings, to create user accounts or to apply for loans by acting like you.
Unfortunately dear readers, victims of credit card skimming remain in dark and unknown about the cheating committed to them until long enough.
Well, friends, it is not an easy task to locate any of such credit card skimmers easily as such are designed and developed just like any ordinary card readers and all you need to do is to be ultra-careful and observant to avert being a victim of fraudulent readers which would simply copy your critical info, only to paste it under wrong sight.
Experts believe that abnormally larger readers than what is used in normal sizes, at gas stations or at any retail outlets. Now, if one manages to wiggle the reader, the chances are high that a skimmer may be attached to it.
To our horror, card skimming devices are also said to be placed at ticket kiosks, other than gas stations and ATMs, but then, experts firmly believe that parking meters and other such spots where credit and debit cards are generally swiped at, can be potential spots of such skimmers.
Finally, at any retail outlet or at a restaurant, workers are likely to carry handy skimmer to steal the critical info when it is handled by them.
Certainly, chip credit cards are basically designed as a lot safer than the cards with magnetic stripes and the critical payment info is encrypted and thus hard to be copied and transferred or stolen. Then, such can provide an additional security layer but then, dear readers, such are not the iron gates, when our transactions involve magnetic stripe and not the chip.
In America, they issue chip cards as credit cards which are happily accepted at millions of commercial points, but then, such are not put in every transaction and the magnetic stripe present on the backside of the card is exposed to fraud.
Making things worse, at locations, where chip readers are in use, chip technology is not always utilized. Mr. Alan Brill, who appears at Cyber-risk practice of Kroll, in the seat of senior managing director recalls numerous of such cases where chip is rendered useless and employees resort to card swipe, in its place. In his words, “They shrugged, ran and the (magnetic) stripe and the transactions went through”. Further to our distress, in response to growing number of chip-centric cards, e-robbers also concoct new ways, such as a novel device known as “shimmers” with the objective of securing the info of our credit and debit cards.
A shimmer is a miniscule and sleek chip, placed inside the slot of a card reader and as such are fitted over a card reader, it can easily become visible to us.
Mr David Kennedy, as the founder and senior security consultant of TrustedSec, an IT consulting group, says, “The shimmer is extremely subtle and difficult to spot. It is also able to steal the card data from a chip-based card, thereby bypassing the enhanced security of the new smart-chip system”. Precisely, shimmer records the card data which is further utilized to put out a magnetic strip card”.
What action if, God forbids, card is suspected to such a skimming scheme???
Even though, credit card companies remain vigilant on the back of superlative technology for fraud detection and freeze the card when any such fraud signs surface, but everything is not in their hands. One can know about the skimming practice performed on his card on noticing fraudulent transactions.
Always, on suspecting any such thing, the issuing company should be contacted instantly to limit the liability as well as to shut down card access altogether. Notify the point where such skimming is likely to take place and manager should be held accountable just in case. Rush to your law enforcement office of your district or consumer rights centre of your city as well as Federal Trade Commission. Dreadfully, such series of steps may not get any respite for the loss, but it can ensure someone’s transaction security in future.
Develop A Shield For Credit Card Skimmers:
To make a safe escape from sinister credit card skimmers, a little bit of chariness can make a lot of difference. For instance, at any gas station:
- Hide Your Hands: While using a debit card, push it like a credit card but never use the PIN. In case, PIN needs to be entered, hide your hands putting in the number, just in case, cameras are strategically hidden with such evil objectives,
- Locate The Seal, if it is not broken: At many gas stations across America, security seals are put over the cabinet panel and on opening it, label flashes the message “void” which is an indication that tampering has taken place.
- If Card Reader Is Differently Operational Reflecting Plenty of Features, Get Alerted: At any shopping point, the card readers should appear and function like any other reader and users are not supposed to fiddle with the reader.
Dear readers, always bear in mind that locating any skimmer is very difficult, as complicated wrapping and plastic setting around the original device, while cunning minds order their hands to hide the skimmer inside the main instrument of occupation, (like inside the pump in a gas station) which would make such unwarranted instrument hidden from common sight.
Mr. Kellermann says, “Take a moment to pause before any transaction”. Clearly, your haste can make you pay heavily and thus, be careful about such miniscule electronic components surrounding you in electronic wiring and in form of flickering lights. Please visit the stores, gas stations, retail outlets, the owners and management of which is familiar to you and is trusted by local community.
A handful of ways observing which, one could be saved from suffering economically and from any health complication arising out of it, are:
- You should make purchases with chip-enabled cards,
- Develop a habit of using cash more than any plastic currency,
- Rely upon mobile payment services or online payment such Apple Pay, Google Pay or Pay Pal.
- Opt for periodic notification and alerts from transactions of your credit and debit cards and also check statements weekly or on regular basis,
- Never use ATMs installed at highways or at sparsely populated locations or any out of the way destinations.