You may know about the organized cyber-crime groups of eastern Europe who’ve been placing ATM credit and ATM debit card readers (skimmers) on bank Automated Teller Machines (ATM) to steal your bank account numbers and personal identification number(PIN); in order to steal funds from your accounts. While this type of crime is becoming more technically sophisticated, by the use of Bluetooth wireless transfer of the stolen information, it’s use is also being expanded to gas stations.
The ATM skimmer, which is very difficult to detect, is attached to the gas pump over the real card reader. When a user inserts his ATM debit card or credit card into the pump skimmer, the account number, pin and any other information on the card is read and transmitted to a portable computer in a nearby vehicle where it is stored for future use by the criminals.
As reported by a ConsumerReports.org Report, this expansion to gas stations by the organized crime groups; is typical of their business-like strategic planning and thinking. They started with rather unsophisticated skimmers that required a portable camera to record the keyed PINs at bank ATM machines; then moved the more sophisticated skimmers to gas stations, which are greater in number, in order to expand their “business” to more customers (victims).
We can only imagine where the next expansion will lead to; credit card readers in retail stores and restaurants, perhaps? Only time will tell. But we must be vigilant to any structure that protrudes from an ATM or gas pump where we’re to insert our credit or debit cards. Other safeguards are: to use a credit card instead of a debit card; because your liability for loss is limited by the credit card issuer and not on debit cards; and you should watch your card account statements like a hawk, looking for any purchases that you didn’t make. Report any suspected theft to your card issuer immediately. Be careful out there…very careful.
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