"Pay at the Pump" Terminals Check Card and Credit Card Counterfeiting
The United States Secret Service has issued statements regarding gas station pay-at-the pump terminals in California and Florida where criminals, using a universal pass key, install skimming devices inside pay-at-the-pump point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
Attacks on ATM and POS terminals are increasing because of several factors, which include a depressed economy, and criminal organizations that funnel money out of the US, as well as the exponential growth of payment cards used by consumers. Pay-at-the-pump terminal fraud is not new to the world of counterfeit skimming, but its emergence comes during a time when consumer payment card usage is at an all-time high. Consumers embrace the convenience of pay-at-the-pump terminals because of the speed and efficiency, while criminals appear to favor them as a way to steal hundreds of card numbers and PINs. Often, consumer cardholders are not aware that their personal information has been stolen until unauthorized withdrawals appear on bank and credit card statements weeks or months after exposure to the electronic skimming theft.
Why are skimming operations like this one so scamless in appearance? Technology lends its hand to paving the way for our society to gain more control of the time we spend on leisure time activities, our personal business, as well as financial activities like online banking. The same conveniences that are afforded to legitimate consumers are also misused by criminals who take advantage of simple things like inexpensive electronics that are used against the consumer to steal his or her personal information without tipping off the consumer. How could this happen so easily? Again, technology plays an important role in providing criminals with the illicit means to steal consumer information. Let's take a look at a possible fraud scenario:
A typical pay-at-the-pump counterfeit operation would require only a few simple elements. The criminals would need easy access to the internal working of the POS terminal, so in this scenario they have a stolen universal access key for easy entry. Inexpensive uniforms would make anyone look like a service technician to anyone working at the actual gas station. Once inside the pay -at -the -pump terminal, a laptop computer, possibly with a transmitter, can easily be taped to the inside wall of the gas pump terminal. A simple card reader could be attached to the external portion of the terminal so that 100% of all card numbers and PIN information will be captured. Wireless transmitters can easily eliminate the need for criminals to return to the gas pump because the information can be retrieved from a remote location up to one mile from the site. Counterfeit duplicates are then easily manufactured to enable criminals to make unauthorized cash withdrawals and purchases.
The US Secret Service recommends heightened awareness for anyone who presently works as a gas station attendant, station owner or service technician in Florida or California to be aware of anyone who claims to be servicing pay-at-the-pump terminals. Consumers who utilize pay-at-the-pump terminals in these states are encouraged to closely monitor their monthly financial statements for any unusual activity. It is imperative that the financial institutions know immediately that your card has been counterfeited. It is further advised that if any unusual devices do appear installed on the ATM or POS device that the local US Secret Service office be contacted immediately for further investigation.
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