Beware of these devices and tactics used by card criminals

Card fraud continues to be a major problem in South Africa and although the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) announced a decrease in card fraud in 2015, an alarming total of R252.2 million was still lost to credit card fraudsters during this period.

Even with increased chip and PIN security, criminals are reverting to card jamming and swopping at ATMs accompanied by shoulder surfing for PINs.   When it comes to credit cards, Card Not Present (CNP) fraud has increased by 12.6% and now accounts for 75% of the losses relating to South African issued credit cards.

According to Elmarie Twilley, spokesperson for Afrikaans insurance brand, Virseker: “One of the main reasons why card fraud is so prevalent is because consumers are not vigilant enough and too trusting. Video footage retrieved from ATM security cameras, shows that criminals are often well-dressed people who appear to be going about their daily business. The key to any fraudster’s success is that of illusion – making the victim believe that there is nothing suspicious going on, that they are just friendly strangers who honestly want to help.”

In South Africa, card skimming devices and micro cameras are used frequently by card criminals. These ATM and Point-of-Sale (POS) skimming devices are installed onto the card slot and, with the help of a small processor and memory card, store the card’s data. Micro cameras the size of the tip of a pen are mounted in moulds that are placed over cash slots to record footage of the keypad. The card data and PIN are then used to make a re-encoded, fully functional counterfeit card.

Another modus operandi often used is that of card swopping. A criminal pretends to be struggling with the machine and allows his victim to try their card. The criminal offers to help the victim and swops their card for a fake card with a similar appearance in the process – all while making sure to keep an eye on the keypad to get the victim’s PIN.

Virseker and SABRIC offer the following tips which may help prevent you from becoming a victim of card fraud:

  • Keep a very close eye on your card at all times.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN.
  • Don’t keep your PIN and your card together.
  • Avoid poorly-lit ATMs.
  • Only key in your PIN when the machine prompts you to do so.
  • Make sure nobody is watching you enter your PIN code.
  • Stand close to the ATM and shield your hand with your body when keying in your PIN to ensure that nobody can see what your PIN is.
  • Make sure you keep your hand over the card slot to make sure nobody can take your card.
  • Leave the ATM immediately if you don’t feel safe.
  • Never accept help from anyone – not even a security guard.
  • Don’t let anyone distract you while you are conducting a transaction at an ATM.
  • Make sure the card is in fact yours before and after you conduct a transaction.
  • Never count your money at an ATM.
  • Cancel your card immediately if your card is lost, stolen, damaged or retained. Make the phone call yourself to your bank or to the number printed on the machine. Don’t let anyone make the call for you.
  • If one or two ATMs in a certain area are not working, it is best not to go to the nearest available ATM in the same area. Sabotage of an ATM is often done to lead potential victims to a specific ATM.
  • If an ATM or POS device looks damaged, the screen is blank or appears as though it has been tampered with, do not use it.
  • Lower your daily withdrawal limit to stop criminals from stealing all you money should they manage to get their hands on your card.

“The main thing is to be on high-alert while you are using an ATM or POS device. If you notice anything suspicious or feel uneasy, trust your instincts and move away from the machine,” concludes Twilley.