Archive for the ‘Skimming’ Category
We’re well into spring and summer is just around the corner. And summer means road trips. Road trips mean more time at the gas pump.
But high gas prices are predicted nationwide this summer. Prices are expected to go as high as nearly $5 per gallon in some areas.
Identity thieves use a technique called skimming at gas pumps, which involves placing a device over the card reader which looks like part of the pump. When you insert your card, the skimmer reads the information on your card, and records it so the thief can later retrieve the skimmer and download the information. He can then use your information to spend to his heart’s content.
Smarter thieves don’t even have to come back to pick up the device. Smarter thieves are using wireless laptops, smartphones or Bluetooth to download the information from nearby – they don’t even have to get out of their cars.
The sad thing is that most people don’t know they’ve been victimized by these thieves until they get their bills and see the fraudulent charges. All too often, by this time the thief has made off with a lot of money.
If you are concerned about falling victim to skimming at gas pumps, the best way to avoid it is to simply pay inside. You can use your credit or debit card, and you can watch the clerk scan your card, or scan it yourself.
If you continue to pay at the pump, use your credit card, or use your debit card but choose the credit option, so you don’t have to input your PIN. Check your bank or credit card statements often to be sure nothing is amiss.
Scammers are well aware that almost $100 billion is spent annually on gift cards, and studies show that almost two-thirds of consumers prefer to receive gift cards. Add all this up and it equals just one thing: major opportunity for theft for criminals this holiday season.
Scams involving gift cards is alarmingly easy. Gift cards have identifying numbers on their magnetic strips, just like credit cards. Thieves go to retailers that have gift card displays and take a picture of the card itself or skim the card to get the data.
Gift cards can be tracked at an associated website or telephone number, so you can find out the remaining card balance. Scammers continually track that number, waiting for it to be activated. Once it has been activated, they clone the card and use its full balance at a retailer.
How do you protect yourself from being scammed? First of all, take a good look at rack displays of gift cards. They’re shaky and out where anyone can get to them. If you are purchasing a gift card for a loved one, don’t purchase them at one of these open displays. Instead, buy them only where they are sold from behind a counter, to increase your chances of getting a card that hasn’t been tampered with.
When you attempt to purchase a card, inspect it carefully. If the packaging has been removed, or the numbers have been exposed, or if the activation sticker looks like it has been removed and put back on, don’t buy the card.
And don’t buy cards from auction sites. There are far too many risks associated with these cards, and you won’t know what you’re getting until it’s too late.
Last of all, if you receive a gift card, cash it in as soon as possible. Don’t give a thief a chance to spend your gift money before you get a chance to.
A Detroit couple were stumped for weeks – a series of liquor store charges appeared on their debit card, and they had no idea how the charges got there.
About $150 in charges for various liquors were charged at four different small liquor stores in Detroit.
The couple finally saw a story in a newspaper about a woman who worked at McDonald’s, who was charged with stealing customers’ debit and credit card information while working in the drive-thru at the fast food restaurant. She used a skimming device to obtain the data.
The Detroit couple saw the story and immediately realized they had been victimized by the woman. After doing some research and looking at receipts, the couple realized they weren’t 100 percent sure the woman had stolen their information as well. But the incident was enough to teach them a lesson.
The couple spent more than a month trying to clear the mess up with their bank.
The thief in this case, used a simple technique: She held the device in her left hand and swiped the card with her right hand, out of the line of vision of the customers. The thief stole more than 100 customer credit and debit cards, and said she would steal the data from about 15-20 cards each shift she worked.
She received the skimmer from an unidentified source, who she said paid her more than $1,000 for providing the stolen data. For each card she skimmed, she was paid an additional $15. The thief now faces up to 15 years in prison.
When going through a drive-thru, it’s best to pay in cash. However, it’s not very practical in this day and age. So just keep your eyes open and never take them off your credit or debit card. Don’t let a restaurant employee take your card out of sight, for even a second. You could regret it, like the couple in Detroit, if you do.