The holidays are a time for family, thanks, and rejoicing; unfortunately, they’re also rife with criminal scams and enterprises run by criminals to take that which they’ve not earned. Every year, it seems that ATM and Debit card swindles become more common, are pulled off with greater precision, and are nearly impossible to detect until after the crime has occurred.
Worse, due to the meltdown of the banking industry, many banks are less lenient to those who don’t detect an unauthorized use of a debit card when several days pass between the crime, and the report. Perhaps it’s another way for the banking industry to make money, but the once “tight monitoring” of banking accounts now comes at a price, usually some sort of monthly fraud protection fee.
The whole reason the banking industry formed was to provide consumer protection for their savings & investments, but with the proliferation of banking services, some banks are charging extra to protect accounts. While part of this is due to the high number of scams afoot, it’s also just another way for some banks to charge you for something they should be providing already. Hmm.
However, I digress.
This holiday season, be aware that ATM and Credit Card scamming are–unfortunately–more abundant than ever. The FBI issued a warning on their e-scam page November 15 regarding holiday shopping, and guideflines for determining whether an offer is real, or possibly a means to rip off your money. The new development in treating bank fraud makes it more important than ever to guard our accounts from the bad guys.
If you think you are a victim of card fraud, contact your bank immediately; the sooner the bank is aware of the fraud, the faster they can reimburse funds and zero-in on the thieves. However, since chip technology and PINs are in use, a growing number of consumers are being denied compensation because the banks deem their systems secure.
If hackers can break into the White House or Department of Defense, they can get into a bank.
Bank, or ATM Card, crime is a huge business. According to Krebs on Security, “The U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from ATM fraud totaled about $1 billion in 2008, or about $350,000 each day” in the United States. This year, in the first half of the year, the UK reported £186.6 million ($249 million), reports the UK Cards Association. The UK’s Nationwide building society’s head of fraud stated:
“The Christmas period is the busiest time of the year for transactions, as people buy presents for friends and family. Using a debit or credit card is generally easy, convenient, and safe, but whether you are shopping on the high street or online, you need to take care.”
There are a couple of bank card frauds of which to be aware:
- Card Not Present (CNP): While most retailers guard against this, it still occurs. CNP crimes are those in which criminals decipher your card information from receipts thrown into trash cans and then use them to purchase items online, via the phone, or mail order.
- Duplicate (Counterfeit) Cards: Criminals copy magnetic strip information from the back of a bank card. Usually, this fraud involves employees at businesses from which consumers purchase, like restaurants, bars, and gas stations.
- Skimming is when the crooks fit ATM machines with stripe readers and then record (using video or a program) the PIN typed in. Card Skimmers are becoming more difficult to detect, and since the crime is extremely difficult to detect, were used in numerous frauds over the past 24-months.
- A card “snatch” is when a cash machine is fitted with a device that traps a card inside the machine. Frustrated consumers give up on retrieving their bank cards and leave. The perps show up, eject the card, and then spend the consumer’s hard-earned money.
- Visual Surveillance, or shoulder surfing occurs when thieves monitor transactions from afar with binoculars or a hidden camera, or stand behind bank customers and write down their information.
- Identity Theft: Crooks steal your SSN, DL#, and other personal information and then open accounts in your name, or they steal your mail and then register any credit cards received.
According to a recent HSBC study, nearly 25% of consumers don’t make any effort to conceal their pin numbers. The card, and associated PIN, should be treated as cash: don’t leave cards unattended, never keep PIN and card together, and stay alert.
If something or someone looks suspicious before you’ve made a transaction, wait them out (they can’t hang out near you forever) or move to another location.