Credit Card Fraud: Card Skimming is Theft

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Criminal Defense

card skimming, theft, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyModern day theft is becoming extremely creative. From identity theft to cyber crime, thieves are coming up with a variety of sneaky methods—many using new technology—to steal money from individuals and corporations. One of the newest and most lucrative tactics, known as ‘card skimming,’ has experts and everyday citizens extremely concerned.

Using high tech devices attached to ATMs and credit card readers in places like convenience stores and gas stations, criminals are able to collect, store, and use everyday citizen’s personal financial information.

What is Card Skimming?

Credit and debit card skimming can happen in a variety of ways. One of the most common ways is stealing personal financial information is through ATMs. High tech gadgets are installed on frequently used ATM machines which allow thieves to capture the card data on anyone who uses the ATM to withdraw money. To do so, thieves install a magnetic card reading device on top of the ATM’s card reader. These devices are made to look exactly like the real ATM reader underneath them, so users do not often catch on.

The device does not interrupt the ATM’s normal functions, so users are still able to withdraw their cash, unaware their data has been stolen. Users slide their card into the device and withdraw their money—all while the theft device saves and stores the user's card information.

In addition to fake card reading devices, card skimmers often install micro cameras allowing them to capture users inputting their PINs. Authorities have even found fake keypads installed on top of ATM’s existing keypads. These fake keypads save and store users PINs as they are typed.

Once thieves have a person's card information and their PIN, they are easily able to create a fake card using the information and use it make purchases. Credit and debit card users typically think nothing of withdrawing money from an ATM, only to get a notice from their bank weeks later that fraudulent activity has occurred.

Card skimmers also steal information through point of sale terminals in retail stores, convenience stores, and gas stations. This is sometimes done by a store employee who uses a fake POS terminal to collect card holders data. These fake terminals can even print out normal looking receipts, leading customers to believe everything went perfectly. Later, however, they notice strange transactions on their bank or credit card statements.

Lately, card skimmers have been targeting gas stations, largely due to their high volume of traffic. The fake technology can be installed in under two minutes, and is used to collect data on anyone using the “pay at the pump” terminals. Thieves will leave the devices installed for days, weeks, or months, collecting massive amounts of data they can then use to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Thieves commonly make these devices themselves, or are able to purchase them online. Many of the devices operate using Bluetooth which immediately send any collected data to the criminals using them. Some can even alert the user via text message when data has been collected. As technology continues to advance, experts are becoming extremely worried about the future of card skimming, and believe the problem is likely to continue growing.

Why Are People Card Skimming?

Aside from being extremely lucrative, card skimming is relatively easy. Most of this technology is available in the shady corners of the Internet, and thanks to 3D printing capabilities, many amateur card skimmers are able to create the technology themselves.

Once thieves have collected enough card data, they use counterfeit cards that they create themselves, using real data, to make purchases at stores or withdraw from ATMs. Credit card data is even more dangerous in the hands of card skimmers, as many more online retailers accept credit cards compared to debit cards. If a thief has some money for the initial technology creation or purchase, and the time to collect and use real users data, why would they choose any other form of theft?

What Are Authorities Doing?

Police and government officials have made it extremely clear that card skimming is theft, and that thieves using card skimming should fear full repercussions from the law. The difficulty is, however, that once the information has been collected and used, it is a challenge for authorities to trace it back to the criminal themselves.

Additionally, when most card holders report suspicious activity to their banks, the banks simply handle the issue internally, and very rarely notify authorities. To step up their security, many banks across the world have started using Chip and Pin systems which make it more difficult for thieves to collect information.

Accused of Theft? Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Depending on the case, if you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, the consequences could be very serious. Contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney today to find out what legal assistance is available to you. The skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney are equipped to handle a variety of criminal cases. Call 312-629-0669 to schedule your consultation.


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