If you regularly pay with a credit or debit/check card (and who doesn't these days?), you should know that your card may be cloned. But how do you do that, and what types of businesses are particularly vulnerable to attackers who cling to your card details?
Personally speaking, I was cloned with a credit card back in 2007 at a popular pizza chain in the UK – a member of the service staff. The next time I checked my balance, I saw that I was shopping in Liverpool that day, 100 miles from where I ate pizza. This is fact that your card data already sold on shop cloned debit cards and somebody already bought your cloned card.
It was this one experience that opened my eyes to the opportunities and threats of scammers, modern pickpockets who are away from Oliver Twist's cute street hedgehogs. Using your money to fund all sorts of illegal feats is not the type of person you want to face face to face.
Therefore, your best defense against card cloning is awareness.
Cards can be cloned using a system called skimming and then they sold on shop cloned debit cards, in which a cloning device may be hidden in the pocket of the person you're paying or in extreme situations connected to a payment machine.
The information from the magnetic stripe on your card is then copied and the PIN is tracked or recorded as it is entered for payment. Once your card details are captured, they can be entered online or programmed into a brand new card, which will then be used by thieves to credit their purchases to your account.
You probably think that the pretty girl at your local supermarket or takeaway won't dream of cloning your card, and you'll probably be right... in most cases.
Where your map can be shop cloned debit cards
As mentioned above, I was enjoying a pizza with my wife in the beautiful northern English city of York when my map removed and cloned. I know this because it was the only time my card was out of your wallet 24 hours.
It's not skimmers and shop cloned debit cards. Wherever the map may be out of sight for a moment, there may be a risk — one that is very expensive.
So, wherever you pay by card, there can be risk. This can be a restaurant or a garage with a pump fee. Similarly, your local ATM may have been modified with a skimmer and possibly a fake front to hide it.
Take precautions against credit card cloning
In order not to become a victim of these scams, you should closely monitor the person you are paying. Make sure they don't take your card out of sight and make sure they don't have anything in their hands.
As for card payment devices and ATMs, take a close look at if there is something that looks wrong or inappropriate. In garages, you may prefer to pay in person than in a pump; Similarly, if you can withdraw money through a cashier at a bank rather than an ATM, do so.
It goes without saying that in order to avoid stealing your card data, you should avoid entering it on public computers (cybercafes, libraries or via public Wi-Fi) and share them over the phone in a public place.
Credit cards and RFID hacking
While the goal of banks and credit card companies appears to be to incorporate RFID technology into contactless payment cards, not all cards yet have the capability.
However, if your card has an RFID chip, you'll find yourself at additional risk as your data can be copied and the card will never leave your possession. Our RFID hacking guide will explain more by showing you how to take precautions to block RFID chip reading without your consent. RFID can be hacked: Here's how and what you can do to stay safe about it, as well as ways to abuse RFID.
And don't forget, wallet apps on smartphones equipped with NFC also have the potential for hacking. If you want to use this payment method, don't forget to turn off NFC when you're not using it.
Plastic is convenient for everyone – stay informed!
The main problem with pay with plastic is that it is convenient, but less safe than carrying money in your wallet. Then, there are so many things in your wallet, wallet that, after all, CC offers thieves a way to your bank account or CC.
Convenience suddenly turns into a two-way street that we could hope our banks would seek to close from undesirable consequences for society.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although credit card fraud in the U.S. is $190 billion a year, of which cloning is just one of many tactics, the responsibility for protecting your funds from hackers, cloners, and scammers rests with you, the card user.
So remember – don't let your credit or debit/check card get out of sight!