Checking For Skimmers: A Day-To-Day Security Task

Costco discovered a credit card skimmer in a store in Canada after shoppers complained on Twitter and Reddit about fraudulent credit card charges. Credit card skimmers were later found at four Costco stores in Illinois.

According to Bleeping Computer, Costco sent a notice to affected customers stating that unauthorized individuals may have stolen data from the magnetic stripe of their payment card, including their name, credit card number, expiration date, and CVV, if the criminals were able to remove the information before the device was discovered. If retailers want to protect their customers, they must prioritize payment authentication software for both in store and online transactions.

Fortunately, physical data theft is typically isolated, as card skimming devices only pose a threat to those who use the compromised device. However, these devices can be used on any point-of-sale device, such as gas pumps and ATM machines.

The data an identity thief can steal from a credit card's magnetic stripe depends on the card, and can include the credit card number, user's name, expiration date, billing address, and rewards account numbers. "Costco discloses card-skimmer incident. Contract lawyers and workplace surveillance. Cyprus fines Wispear for surveillance van case." thecyberwire.com (Nov. 15, 2021).

 

Commentary

Credit card skimmers are devices that read the magnetic stripe on a credit or debit card when the user slides it into a card reader. They store personal data, such as the card number, expiration data, and cardholder’s name, allowing identity thieves to recover this information later and use it for fraudulent transactions.

Skimmers can be easy to place on devices because they often fit over the machine. Chip cards provide much greater protection against credit card skimming than magnetic stripes.

Identity thieves can place a credit card skimmer on any card reader, including those in retail stores and restaurants, at ticket kiosks, and at parking meters. However, they most often target ATMs and gas stations. That is because it is more difficult for a thief to install a card skimmer on a point-of-sale system at a store.

Inspect your points-of-sale. You can spot credit card skimmers by performing a visual and physical inspection.  Check that the card reader and the panel underneath align. Because skimmers are often placed on top of the actual card reader, they may stick out at an odd angle or cover arrows on the underlying panel. Compare the card reader to others nearby to see if there are any differences.

Check if the buttons on the ATM's keypad are too hard to push and avoid those that are. Chauncey Crail and Caroline Lupini “How To Spot A Credit Card Skimmer” www.forbes.com (Aug. 20, 2021); John Egan and Chris Kissell “What Is a Credit Card Skimmer? And How You Can Protect Yourself” money.usnews.com (Jan. 13, 2020).

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