Recently thieves have been able to steal your credit card information while you still have your card. The Internet is a great place but is also a place where you can purchase a device called a Skimmer that reads and stores credit card information. A cashier working in a Mcdonald’s drive through was swiping people’s credit cards twice. Once through the register and again through his Skimmer. The thief was collecting about 80 credit card numbers per day and then buying products online using other people’s cards. He has since been arrested but it is a rising crime that is hard to control. How do we know our credit information is safe anywhere we purchase stuff?
Police say he was stealing credit card digits during every shift he worked. You drove in for a hamburger and left with somebody else buying all kinds of stuff and charging it to you. Electronic Skimmers are so advanced, you don’t even need a human to operate the device. A common place they are showing up is in gas station pumps. If you pay at the pump, and one of these devices have been installed, it automatically steals your credit card information. Shawn Marques from a company called Arizona Weights & Measures has been assisting the police in covert operations to find these devices installed in gas pumps.
In order to catch these criminals, he came up with the idea once it was found that a gas pump was stealing credit card information, to take the Skimmer out and replace it with a night vision camera. When the organized bad guys tried to retrieve the Skimmer, they were caught on camera. Many cameras are small and battery operated so they are easy to install. We now have video of organized criminals trying to retrieve the Skimmers, Quite often the owners of the gas stations have no idea the devices have been installed into their machines. Some Skimmers are so small, about the size of a matchbox that they can fit into the ledge of a machine.
Skimming all over the country has gotten so bad that now Steve Scarince of the Secret Service, yes, the same guys that protect the President are investigating the matter. There are now credit card hackers teaching the good guys how they do it in exchange for jail time. If the gas station owners don’t know that Skimmers are in their machines, then how did they get there? Believe it or not, there is basically a universal key that will open most gas pump doors. It is the same key from Massachusetts all the way to California. Unfortunately, you can also buy these keys on line. We really need some Internet commerce regulations to stop the availability of these type of things for sale to anyone.
Dan DeFelippi, a former credit card thief says that the newer devices can use cell phone networks to transfer the data. So now we don’t even get to see the bad guy! They can get my credit card information without ever having to return to the pump. So how do we stop them and how can we avoid being a victim? I don’t need people going on shopping sprees with my credit card information. If you choose to use your credit card at the pump, chose a machine that has a padlock on it and thus avoiding the universal key problem. You can be extra safe by paying directly to the attendant inside.
Other precautions you can take is to check your credit card account regularly. Most credit card companies will take the loss if you report it within 60 days. Choose a pump near the attendant. Skimmers prefer to choose pumps that are in the shadows. Good luck using your credit card for anything anywhere these days.