Lots of discussion the last couple of days about skimmers. So here’s what we know:
Often times people whose credit cards are fraudulently used believe their card must have been skimmed at the last place it was used. While this can be true, suspects can collect credit and debit card information for months before finally downloading it onto dummy credit cards. Banks search their transactions for a “Common Point of Compromise” meaning what businesses have been charged on all of the compromised accounts. King Soopers, for example, is likely to be on about 80% of Longmont consumers debit and credit cards within thirty days so they are likely to show up, but doesn’t mean there is a skimmer installed. At the time of this post, King Soopers loss prevention has searched the north store without finding any skimmers and are searching the rest of the stores in Longmont now. Shell also did not find any skimmers at their location. Most businesses and banks check their readers once a day.
Skimmers are usually installed inside gas pumps and can’t be seen on the outside. Rarely, skimmers have been installed on the outside and look exactly like the original credit card reader, only a little thicker and more extended. These skimmers are quickly applied with sticky tape and can be pulled off or feel loose. These external skimmers are more frequently found on ATMs. Debit card PINs are captured with tiny cameras, sometimes installed inside hollowed out Phillips screws, above the number pad or with a fake number pad laying over the original number pad.
In 2020, all gas stations will be required to have the chip reader installed so the magnetic strip will go away. The chipped cards are much safer for the moment, until credit card hackers learn a way to defeat them. The old magnetic strip was 1980’s technology that was in need of a security upgrade for a long time.
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