Skimming is a technique used by cybercriminals to steal data and information from payment cards and other devices. There are two types of skimming: electronic and physical.
Electronic skimming is the usage of high-tech gadgets that intercept the device’s input or output data in order to mimic its functions. Since it is done electronically, this type of skimming is more accessible and cost friendly as opposed to physical skimming.
Physical skimming, on the other hand, is the usage of a device with embedded hardware that acquires or records credit card information from its magnetic strip or chip. Since this type of skimming has the capability to actually alter the device’s functionality (e.g. a surreptitious keystroke logger which records PINs), it is considered to be more expensive and complicated, but also more effective.
In addition, skimming devices have been said to have the capability of intercepting data from other kinds of payment cards such as debit cards and prepaid cards since they all require a method for authentication. This capability allows hackers to access a larger pool of victims.
Hand-Held POS Skimming
Hand-held point of sale skimming has long been used to steal credit card information.
Skimming is a method of stealing people’s credit card information, typically by using an electronic device to read the magnetic strip on the back of a card. Hand-held skimmers can be placed directly on top of the payment machine, or attached via suction cup over the existing card reader.
The technology is very widespread all over the world. While your credit card can be canceled after it has been stolen, the criminals are usually able to withdraw large amounts of money before the fraud is detected.
It used to be that skimmers were made out of cheap materials, but these days more and more sophisticated devices are available on the black market. The main reason for this development is likely because of how quickly technology evolves in general. With more advanced skimmers available, the average cybercriminal is able to steal more money for less work. As new models continue to be released on a regular basis, this trend will likely never stop.
While all merchants and businesses take credit card fraud very seriously (and rightly so), some of them aren’t even aware that they’re doing it themselves! Retailers often overlook that the security on their own card readers might be lacking.
POS swaps are an increasing security threat. They are typically to blame when credit cards are compromised in store transactions. These swipes end up being more complicated than a simple swipe and a PIN entry, because they require the cardholder to verify that the POS is correct by pressing a button or entering a code. While these numbers can be easily intercepted during transmission, it is much harder to do that for a PIN. Not surprisingly, stores are usually equipped with POS terminals that have built-in PIN pads, which makes them more expensive than standard swipe-only ones.
A person using a POS machine swipes their card through a reader which they believe is an ordinary credit card reader. They may or may not be required to enter their PIN number. When the data is swiped, however, it gets sent through via a hidden cable to a device which captures and stores the information for later use.
Self-service skimming is the act of using an ATM or other type of machine that accepts cash to steal your card information, pin code or even your hand-written signature. The thieves often use a wireless camera and recording device so they can record you entering this data on the PIN pad, which is then used to create duplicate cards.
Some types of skimmers are nothing more than a flat device that fits over the existing card reader, while others come with their own enclosures. These enclosures can contain electronics to allow thieves to skim your credit or debit card information without too much suspicion while maintaining the appearance of an unaltered machine.
This information is then used to create duplicate cards, which are often indistinguishable from real ones except that they will not work with any devices that check for security features like embedded chips. The best way to protect yourself is to cover the keypad whenever you are entering sensitive information. Always use your other hand to block the view of any cameras that might be recording you.
Skimming is associated with identity theft, but has little to do with stealing credit card information. Almost all banks use credit cards as their primary benchmark for identity theft prevention. However, it is important to note that card skimming occurs in other places like ATMs, gas pumps, and retail stores. The device itself may vary depending on the type of theft; however, it is executed for an identical purpose – to steal personal information (i.e., credit card numbers).
Skimming devices are often undetectable by customers, but can be discovered by bank personnel using certain security checks. In order to prevent being victimized, be aware of your surroundings when using a credit card in a questionable area or at a shady location. When possible, use cash or another type of payment in these areas until the situation has been resolved.
Skimming can happen anywhere that takes credit cards, including ATMs. Make sure you’re always aware of your surroundings and ask a store clerk to help if you notice a strange card reader. Stay tuned into Bayshore Interactive for more information on security!