It’s that time of the year—presents and bows, snow and good cheer, eggnog and fruitcake. It’s also the time of the year for spending tons of cash and many, many visits to ATM’s and credit-card-swiping devices.
Yes, this is the busiest shopping time of the year. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also the busy season for Skimmers, Scammers, and Slicksters. This group of bad guys are the lowest of the low, preying on the weak and wounded, those of us whose pennies have been pinched so tightly during the year that tears flow from Honest Abe’s eyes.
Holiday crooks have no qualms about stealing our last dimes, even the ones we saved up to buy our Christmas roast beast and Who-puddings. So what can you do to protect yourselves and your hard-earned cash? Here are a few noteworthy ideas.
1. Don’t use public WiFi to do your holiday shopping. This goes for banking or any other shopping that requires a password or the use of your personal information.
2. Know the websites you use for shopping. Be sure the sites are secure and legitimate. Misspelled company names are a definite NO!
3. Be especially cautious when using ATM machines. If possible, use ATM machines located inside a business. They’re much more difficult to alter.
Could you spot an ATM machine that’s been altered to collect your data?
False PIN entry pads are installed over legitimate pads and are used for capturing customer PIN numbers. In the image above, the false pad is pulled back, revealing the actual entry pad.
False PIN pad overlay. Looks real, doesn’t it?
4. When using ATM machines shield the keypad from view with your free hand to avoid having your pin number copied. Thieves have been known to install cleverly disguised cameras on ATM machines.
The long, white horizontal bar at the top of the machine is actually a camera that’s used for recording PIN numbers as they’re entered by a customer.
5. Inspect card-swipe devices, especially at outdoor locations, such as gas pumps. Look for loose parts and/or the the use of double-sided tape near or on the keypads and other machine parts. The tape is often used to hold the overlays and cameras in place, making it easy to remove and move the capture devices to other machines, or when authorities may be closing in.
Would you have spotted this phoney PIN pad?
By the way, these items are easily available for sale on the internet. Go figure.
Anyway, keep your eyes open, your purse and wallets closed and close to your heart, and your spirits high. It’s a joyous time of the year…as long as the roast beast is done on time…
*kresonsecurity and FBI images (well, not the roast beast image).