Credit Card Thieves Target Portable Processing Machines

Tampered credit card processing machines has been a heavy topic of discussion of late thanks to a reported increase of incidents involving identity and securities theft resulting from rigged machines.

Most people do not think twice when paying the dinner bill with a credit card. The server brings the bill to the table and you, probably nonchalant, pull the card out of your wallet and set it in the check presenter or on the tray. The server leaves and quickly returns with a receipt for you to sign, which you do and then promptly exit the building.

The New Identity Theft Standard

Unfortunately, though, identity thieves also know how quickly people dismiss this act and that is precisely the reason Toronto police have recently discovered an increase in portable credit card processing machines. The tampering allows criminals to hijack the processing terminal and retrieve the credit card numbers remotely via Bluetooth, cellular, and other wireless fidelity technologies. Obviously, this is a much more convenient method for stealing information than physically acquiring purses, wallets, and actual cards.

The Evidence

According to evidence discussed in a recent Toronto press conference, understanding this new information is much more important than dealing with rigged automated teller machines. It should be obvious that the portable nature by which this type of thievery can be committed is of much more import than that of stationary electronic banking machines. Examples of this include:

  • Sticky number keypad - could be a sign that someone is trying to track keystrokes. Of course, digital and touch screen machines offer safeguards against this.
  • Thieves can install miniature cameras to actually record your PIN code keystroke combination, which they can then use at a later time
  • Some thieves install micro-magnetic stripe readers over or within the machine's card reader in order to record the electronic information on your card as you perform your transaction

Obviously, there are some security measures in place (such as security cameras that either record video of transactions or take a picture of the person accessing any account at any given time, providing authorities with a face they can assign to any act of crime performed on said machine) but these are not always effective. In fact, some of these security measures are a bit archaic in light of things like NFC and touchscreen technologies that work more efficiently and effectively.

What You Need To Do

Of course, there are several things you can do to better safeguard yourself from this type of thievery:

  • Obviously, you can avoid machines with physical keypads, especially those that are particularly sticky
  • Use machines in extremely well-lit and/or high-traffic areas
  • Only use cash machines during daytime hours
  • Avoid using portable transaction machines like those you might find in a restaurant or even a convenient store (those that can be brought to your table)

Sometimes, though, you are not able to take the same careful attention as you would prefer. Occasionally you will have to closely read your monthly statements in order to better determine if and how you may have been victimized by fraud or theft. Of course, it is very easy to notice when a large withdrawal posts to your account or when more money is processing than you rightfully believe should be but this is not always the case. Indeed you will need to keep receipts and double check your account, especially if you consistently use your card at smaller business that might rely on these portable point-of-sale processing machines.

The good news is that catching any fraud early usually means you will not be held liable for it. Most bank accounts are FDIC-insured, which means that as long as you report fraud or theft quickly the bank will take the hit and investigate your claim. Efficient reporting also ensures that authorities can better track the activity which can, hopefully, assist them in catching the perpetrators. This is especially important if the criminal is an employee of a small company because the businesses owner could be held liable for damages (as opposed to their merchant bank account holder absorbing the loss).

Final Word

In brief, being a smart consumer these days means so much more than keeping track of your cards and wallet. It is becoming increasingly more and more important to track your monthly statement and make sure that you are only being charged for authorized transactions. Also, know what to do and who to contact if something is amiss; it will save you time and energy.

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