What the Tech!?!? – Don’t Get Scammed in 2019
After spending hours working and saving money, nothing sucks more than getting robbed by someone going into your bank account and taking all your money. In this month’s What the Tech!?!?, I will open your eyes to some common ways that bad guys try to rob you of your money.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) theft is the first way. RFID is what allows you to use Tap-to-Pay. While tap-to-pay is great and very secure, the RFID data can be read not just by card terminals, but also by third-party RFID readers. These readers look like an old cell phone, and if the bad guy is close by, they can use this wirelessly to grab your credit or debit card number and additional info, even if your wallet is in your pocket or purse. A good way to protect yourself is to use an RFID shield, which can be in a simple style, like in the form of a paper cardholder, or as fancy as wallets with RFID blocking built into them.
From the high-tech of RFID, we move to low tech. That’s right, I mean someone who just goes ahead and writes down your credit card number. This happens a lot when you’re at a restaurant, and your waiter may take your card to swipe it. In this scenario, the waiter could take down the card number and attempt to use it to make a later purchase. The best way to combat this type of fraud is to be within sight of your card at all times. If the waiter offers to swipe it for you, just say, ‘Great, let me come with you.’ If they push back, ask for a manager.
Lastly is skimming, when bad guys do a modification to the credit card terminal or ATM/bank machine.
The modification adds a reader inside the slot which you’d normally stick your card into, and will record your account info, as well as your PIN. This is, by far, one of the most common threats out there.
Sadly, skimming is sometimes hard to catch. The machines are made to look just like a normal terminal that you would use to pay for common things such as gas, meals, and cab rides. I would encourage you to try the following means to protect yourself from skimming scams: Let’s assume that your bank card pin is 1234. Your cab ride just ended, and you are about to pay. Rather than using the real pin (1234), use a fake pin (like 0000).
Now – this is the important part – if that fake pin (0000) works and your card gets approved, then you know that this terminal has been compromised. At that point, take a receipt, maybe also, write down the cab’s license plate number, and then, call the non-emergency police number to let them know. Don’t forget to also call your bank to tell them that your card was compromised.
It sucks that bad things happen, but it is better to be aware of what to look for, and to try to protect yourself rather than falling victim.