Scam Alert: This Is How Criminals Steal Your Credit Card Details


When it comes to money, especially our hard-earned money, we like to be careful and take all necessary precautions. Ladies can spend frivolously especially when there’s someone buying, and men can spend freely especially when there’s a bonus coming in from somewhere. But when it comes to someone you don’t know stealing your hard-earned money, now that can be very irritating.

Gone are the days of the good old-fashioned purse snatchers. With little brute and more skill, thieves only need a minute, sometimes a second, to pilfer your credit card information and rob you blind in broad day light.

Gone also are the days when they dig up your trash for the imprint of credit cards from the carbon copies. Technology is not only for the legal owner of the money, it can also help the thief to get exactly what he wants, where he wants it and how he wants it. Technology has become a good resort for thieves who will stop at nothing to make sure they enrich themselves at the expense of others.

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On this note, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), on behalf of the banking industry, has voiced its concern about the increase in card fraud.

The banking industry’s gross fraud losses due to South African-issued credit card fraud increased by 23% from R366m in 2013 to R453.9m in 2014, and the number seems to be rising even higher in 2015. Majority of the debit card losses were due to counterfeit card fraud, and most of the transactions occurred within South Africa.

Credit card fraud is most prevalent in the provinces of Gauteng, the Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal, as they collectively accounted for 88% of all credit card fraud in South Africa.

This makes one wonder how these criminals are able to succeed so often in scamming people out of their credit card information. Having carried out studies as well as practice, we bring you some of the most common ways they steal your bank/credit card data; some of the methods used are highly ingenious and could fool even the most careful. Read on in the next few pages to see how they do it and how you can protect your details.

Card Skimming

Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. This could happen at any point where you are required to insert you card in to any card reading device especially an ATM machine. This is mostly done by placing a duplicate reading device over the existing one on an ATM machine. It reads your card data and stores it and then the criminal can later retrieve it using a laptop and then produce a duplicate card which he can use to make purchases or withdrawals at will. Most time they end up making away with thousands of dollars before the slip is noticed. See a better illustration of how card skimming works.

See Also: 10 Smart Ways You Can Know If That Job Is A Scam


Handheld Card Skimming

Handheld card skimming happens mostly at ATMs. While people are in a long queue waiting their turn, a well dressed criminal comes along looking like a bank employee. He presents a card re-activating device with which he encourages unsuspecting customers to use and re-activate their cards. Unknown to them, as he swipes the card through the device, their data has been recorded and their accounts ready to be exploited.


Card Skimming At Retail Points Of Payment

Card skimming happens quite regularly at points of sale where the attendant or the cashier or the waiter will need to insert your card into a handheld device with which they are supposed to get your payment. The attendant might have been bribed by the card skimmer to defraud customers, so it is advised that while inserting your card, make sure that your thumb is pointing to the device and that your thumb remains fully on the card. Other wise, do not insert your card, and don’t give out your PIN.


Online Risks And Others


Every time you carry out a transaction online using you card or your card details, there is the chance that someone somewhere has been waiting for you to do just that. Computers can be infected with spyware which will relay everything the victim types, to the criminal. If card information is typed on an infected computer, the characters could be relayed back to the criminal. Malware can also be used to steal card data. This makes online security a very important necessity if you want to enjoy your transactions.

Other methods your credit card details can be stolen include:

1. By entering your data onto a fake website.

2. By visiting a legitimate but compromised website

3. By using an infected PC


See how to protect your details and yourself against all these on the next page

How To Protect Your Card Details And Not Be A Victim?

Sabric offered the following advice on how to protect yourself against card skimming:

  • If you think the ATM is faulty, cancel the transaction immediately, report the fault to your bank, and transact at another ATM.
  • Be cautious of strangers offering help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN.
  • If you are disturbed or interfered with whilst transacting at the ATM, your card could be skimmed by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction and immediately report the incident using your bank’s toll free number which is displayed on the ATM or on the back of your bank card.
  • Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe to transact.
  • Know what your ATM looks like so that you are able to identify any foreign objects attached to it.
  • If your card is retained, do not leave the ATM before you have cancelled your card by calling your bank’s call centre using your own mobile phone.
  • Shield the hand that is typing your PIN.
  • Never let the card out of your sight when making payments and, if possible, insert the card into the point of sale device yourself.
  • Always ensure that the card you receive out of the ATM is your own.
  • If you have debit, cheque, and credit cards, don’t choose the same PIN for all of them so that if you lose one, the others will still be safe.
  • Keep your transaction slips and check them against your statement to spot any suspicious transactions.
  • Check the Rand value of the transaction on the screen before entering your PIN and authorising the transaction. Note the value must be reflected in Rands. If not, stop the transaction and contact your bank immediately.
  • Change your PIN as often as possible.
  • Do not ask anyone to assist you at the ATM, not even the security guard or a bank official. Rather go inside the bank for help.
  • Never force your card into the slot as it might have been tampered with.
  • Do not insert your card if the screen layout is not familiar to you and looks like the ATM may have been tampered with.
  • Never write your PIN on your card.
  • Never write your PIN on paper and store it in the same location as your card.

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