Credit Card Skimming and Pin Theft Frauds – How to stay safe

It is much easier and better for us to use credit or debit cards for transactions than carrying paper currency and change in our purses. While on one side the plastic cards have made our lives easier, the other side is related to credit card frauds like skimming and stealing pins,  etc. It is not a good world and you cannot give your credit card to someone assuming nothing bad can happen. With devices as low as $50 being sold on eBay and elsewhere, skimming of credit card was never easier. The data obtained thus can be sold to others in the Darknet or used to create counterfeit cards for personal gains.

credit card skimming fraud

Ultra Portable Skimming Device

Credit Card Skimming

Reading your credit card’s data that is stored in the magnetic strip part using illegal mean is called credit card skimming. There are different types of devices available in the market for the purpose. And these types of readers cannot be banned as they are not illegal. These mini devices can fit into your pants’ pocket and serve anyone willing to steal and store the data. Once the data is obtained, it is not hard to get the related pin code.

Sometimes the pin code can be obtained by producing counterfeit pin pads where the unsuspecting person enters his or her pin that is stored in the device. ATM skimming is the crime where a plate is placed on the place where you swipe your credit card. Even before the ATM can read your cards’ data, the plates read the data and either store it locally or send it to other computers wirelessly. A plate is placed horizontally in the slot carefully. As soon as you enter the card, the illegal plate first reads the data and then the ATM machine. The same technique can be employed at gas stations, etc. that require credit card information.

Stealing the PIN

This popular method uses the heat generated points. A pin pad when pressed, will not show any physical signs after entering the pin. But if a person employs special eyeglasses, he can see green light on the keys pressed. This light is actually heat generated by pressing the keys. Then the criminals can create a combination. Also, since the pin pressed first will be less hot than the key pressed at last, it becomes easier to create combinations using special glasses. In other words, the key pressed at first will give away lower intensity light signals while the key pressed at last will be of greater intensity.

Another popular method is to employ a pin camera. A small camera – invisible to users – is employed over the pin pad and can be used to steal pin of credit cards. The camera can hold the data or transmit it to the remote computers using wireless signals.

Read: What Are EMV Credit Cards?

Protect yourself from Credit Card Skimming fraud

There are several methods listed on different websites related to credit card skimming. I have collected some methods for you here:

1] Do not allow people to take away the credit or debit card away from your sight. In restaurants etc., waiters take away the card inside. You do not know what they are doing inside. They may use one of the skimming devices to steal your data. It is always better to accompany the waiter. For some credit card companies it is now necessary to enter pin so you will be required to be present when the card is swiped. The best method is to go to restaurant where they use bring the portable machines to your table.

2] If you are asked to swipe card twice or enter the pin twice, it could be a trap. You may want to pay up in cash instead. If a device looks suspicious, do not allow swiping until you have proper information of the device.

3] For protecting pins, keep the hand over the pin pad after entering your pin. That way, people using special glasses to decipher your pin using heat method will fail. Keeping your hand on pin pad will heat all the buttons and thus, you can foil their attempt to read your pin using heat waves.

4] Finally, keep on checking your financial statements regularly. This will give out any transactions that were not done by you or yours. If you find anomalies, inform the card company and get the card replaced. In some cases, you may get your money back too.

If you have anything to add, do share.

Now read about what all information is stored in the Boarding Pass Barcode and why you should care.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

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