Thursday, December 13, 2007

Paying By Debit?

If you are paying by debit, you might be paying more than the merchant. Lots more.
Debit theives are at it again, which isn't new, but the method is bloody scary.
I was once a victim of debit card fraud in the range of three thousand bucks a few years ago. I got it all back without problem, but it made me wary. Someone merchant cloned my debit card and watched me punch my PIN in the machine, and at the time I had a very easy PIN to read. When the bank refunded the cash, it came at a small cost. I needed to change my PIN to five digits instead of four, so I chose a very strategic PIN which uses two hands to enter, nearly impossible to read when watching. I know this cause I have tested it many times. But that doesn't matter anymore. Now, they don't have to watch.
The new scam involves replacing the debit card reader and PIN pad with one of their own. The "new" reader is very easy to replace, just unplug the coily phone cable, put old reader in pocket and replace with identical looking debit card reader and PIN pad. Here's the scary part. The new debit card reader has been modified with a bluetooth wireless transmitter, and is transmitting in real-time, your card number and PIN. Someone in a nearby car can clone your card and have your PIN creating a perfect copy of your bank card. They can then walk up to a bank machine and pull out the maximum daily amount in cash.. all before you have walked out of the store. Even more scary than that, at this current time there is no way to detect this scam. Everyone is walking around with bluetooth cellphones, bluetooth handsfree, etc.. flooding busy malls with bluetooth wireless traffic, bringing the chance of RF scanning techniques to pretty much nothing. Police are asking merchants to place personalized stickers or hard to remove identification markers on the pin pads, record the serial number and check throughout the day.
Good news is, I can go back to my easy PIN, cause apparently, it doesn't matter anymore.




Tan said...

A recent conversation I had with the wife of a cop is now suddenly making sense. She told me to turn over the debit machines to check for a sticker or something. I just smiled and nodded like I knew what she was saying. Now it makes sense. Thanks A. She also told me to buy a shredder - which I did. It's loads of fun.

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