Ways to Avoid Card Skimming (theft of credit/debit info)

Hubby and I were sitting in the living room, watching tv (ok, really, I was on the laptop, he was playing with his new phone) at 8pm on Saturday night. We had just been talking about dinner, did we want to make something on the grill (steaks like planned) OR go out?

The house phone rang, which is an odd as NO ONE calls the house phone, you know? Since we don't have caller ID anymore, we always look at each other ... do we wanna answer or not?

I answered. It was the Bank Security Dept.  They wanted Hubby so I knew it was his account. For some reason, I MADE him take the call.

As I hear him saying NO, NO, and NO I close out all my windows and open up the bank website so he can log in as soon as possible.

Sure enough. 10 transactions at those little Presto ATM machines outside the grocery store. $283 in Miami Beach. Another $202 at the same place. and then 8 transactions right in a row at another store in Hollywood for $262, $202 and then 6 $82. FYI - the $2 and $3 odd charges are what the fee is for using the ATM, then there is the bank fee to be added too.

They froze the account and locked the card immediately. Of course, the Fraud dept is closed until Monday at 9am. So we drive to the Hollywood store. The manager is able to pull up the video based on the time given to us by the Bank and sees the criminal clearly. Asked Hubby for the last 4 digits of his card and verifies that the criminal used it 6 times AND that he could clearly see the man pulling cards out of his right pocket, putting them back in the left pocket and pulling another one out of the right pocket. Watched this happen  a few times as he'd walk away and come back.

So then we had to drive to Hollywood Police Dept and file a report. They were kind enough to give us the information for Miami Beach Police Dept to call and file a report instead of having to drive there too.

So. Sunday, I decide to research.  We are quite certain this happened at a 7-11 gas station on Monday. Why? Because, I was behind Hubby (we were taking my truck to the shop).

He went to the furthest pump on the outside corner.

Had to swipe his debit card 3 times to get it to read right. Blocked the sun with his body to put in his pin number.

Come to find out:

1. Card reader's installed sometimes require a swipe of two times or more to get a read to the gas station after the initial swipe to the reader.

2. Pinhole cameras are very common (instead of the old standby shoulder surfing) for obtaining pin number.

3. Alot of it uses very modern technology, wireless access to the information that is download and such. The crooks have been caught sitting in a parking lot across a street. This particular gas station we were at was across the street from a big mall with multistory parking garages ... facing the pumps we used.

We now know that:

1. You should never ever use your debit card as a debit charge at a gas station pump. They recommend either going inside to pay (ugg) or using a credit card as credit cards have more protection.

2. Always always always shield the key pad with hand when inputting you pin number. I've always thought that was so freakin geaky paranoid behavior like.

3.  Never ever let your card out of site. How often, really, does this happen? Restaurants, etc. If the card isnt' being swiped in PLAIN view, they say you should let it be used. That makes life a little difficult and paranoid, yet again.

4.  You really should check you account thoroughly frequently IF you suspect anything.

5.  And of course, like my motto should be anyways, use cash.

6.  IF you suspect something, report it. I used the ATM at the branch one day and freaked a little when I  saw all these scrape marks around the card swipe. Definitely looked like someone pried it off. Sure enough, I called the branch while standing there and was told it was fine, that they had recently upgraded the swiper. Ummm, you'd think a professional would be leaving no evidence behind if crooks can, right?

Now we wait. Hubby was calling the Fraud Department this morning when he got to work (need to find out how that went). Needs to get a new card (soon, hopefully as he travels for 10 days coming up). I'm thinking it's not going to be an issue to get the money back as it's such unusual behaviour (never ever have we gotten cash anywhere but a local bank branch) and also, brings the question of what happened to the max allowable transaction of $500 a day?

On a slightly off topic note: the TV in the living room, the last remaining old timer, died on Saturday night after all this happened. Hubby has been waiting for this day for several years so he could replace it. Ummm. No. Not til we get the money back in our account and the NEW card.

UPDATE: I come home Monday night and walk down the hall. Sonny Boy is sitting on the couch playing the acoustic (and writing music), saysHi, smiles at me and asked if I notice anything different. I look around, perplexed, and say WHAT? The TV was on and he was wathing it. BUT the lovely forced upon us digital cable mini converter in the Florida Room DOES NOT work. I hate Comcast. Seriously. They forced you to switch to the digital stuff, forced you to PAY for the extra equipment required and THEN the stuff doesn't work, no kidding, 30% of the time. Am considering trying to find out how to file an official complaint to whoever regulates them.

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