Credit Card Skimming Is On The Rise.

Credit Card Skimming Is On The Rise.

Often, advances in technology bring with it a rise in technology based criminal activity.  This is partly due to the availability of improved technology at lower costs, and an abundance of criminals willing to share it with others.

A recent Northwest example is that of Tukwila fast food restaurant worker, who along with two accomplices used a portable, pocket sized magnetic scanner to skim credit card numbers from hundreds of unsuspecting customers.  This was done over a period of several months.  The criminals took the customers card information and used it to create fake credit cards, and then went on a spending spree that racked up 538 fraudulent transactions totaling around $75,000.00.

When the primary was a arrested at work, the police found a skimming device in her pocket.  A search of her house revealed additional skimmers, a credit cared reader/encoder, credit card stock, gift cards, and several Play Station games. Additionally, her car turned up several credit cards used for the fraudulent transactions.  Police also had video footage of the criminals using the stolen cards.

What you can do to avoid being skimmed?

Don’t let the card out of your sight.

As a recent example:  My younger brother was in town and while shopping in a unfamiliar  area of Seattle, we visited a small sit down Cafe for lunch.  The Cash Register was hidden from the seating area, and the some of the staff looked a little questionable.  When paying, I went to the register, and watched the clerk handling the card, swipe the card, and had him give it back to me immediately after I signed the sales draft.

Some Warnings signs to watch out for…

  • The clerk has to go under the counter to swipe the credit card. – So it’s out of your view the entire time.

  • The register and credit card equipment is hidden from view.

  • The clerk (cups) or otherwise attempts to hide the card from your view, or holds it under your line of sight, and/or appears to be having some unusual amount of difficulty scanning the card.

  • There is no provision for paying up front (i.e. the clerk has to go into a back room to scan the card).

  • The receipt that they hand you displays the full credit card number and expiration date.  This is an indication that the customers equipment is not compliant with current security standards, so you are at risk.

As a business owner, how can I protect my customers?

  • Make sure that your card swipes, pin pans and other credit card devices are clearly visible to both your staff and customers.  – Out in the open is the general rule.

  • Train your staff on card proper card-handling procedures.

  • Consider closed circuit TV to monitor staff.

  • Contact CCS Retail Systems to schedule a review of your physical equipment and software to see that it meets proper CISP compliancy standards.

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