Nationwide, a rather insidious type of identity theft that can affect thousands of consumers without a hint that it’s happening. Unfortunately, the scam is growing more common and problematic.
Skimming scams have been discovered in a wide variety of places around the country and can lead to significant issues not only for consumers, but for the businesses hit by them as well, according to a report from the Columbus Dispatch. Some incidents involve criminals either planting a device into machines that read cards — such as point-of-sale machines, ATMs and gas pumps — or hacking into systems and installing malware that can affect a large number of terminals all at once. The crime has existed on some level for about a decade now, but seems to be growing far worse.
“It’s one of the top crimes we deal with as far as the Secret Service goes,” Jon Schuck, the agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Columbus, Ohio, told the newspaper. “The way to stem the flow is by making arrests and making it public.”
In other, low-tech instances of these cases, there is usually one leader at the top of the scam who masterminds the deal, but then hires people to carry it out, the report said. This can include employees at businesses consumers frequent every day, including waiters or retail workers, to whom consumers might casually hand over their cards without a second thought when making a purchase. These people then essentially double-swipe cards — once to make the purchase as normal, and again to obtain the account information, which they then often sell back to the ringleader at $5 or $10 per stolen credit card number.
These cases may take a while to discover because even if a large number of people notice their credit or debit cards have been compromised and report them, it can take a lot of work from law enforcement and industry officials to determine what all these reported incidents have in common.
As such, it can be vital for people to keep close tabs on their various financial accounts at all times to better determine when a fraudulent purchase is made without their knowledge or consent. Reporting them as quickly as possible can in turn help to ensure that these issues are being remediated as quickly as possible.
Image: Ryan McVay