Rants, Raves, Reviews

ATM Skimming

By Gary R, in , posted: 3-Apr-2006 12:39

Well it had to happen sooner or later to our little utopian society. We were after all one of the first countries to embrace the 'cashless' society ideology. I am surprised that it has taken this long for skimming to reach our shores.
I can remember years ago when a woman was prosecuted in the US for doing the old double swipe. That is swiping a customer credit card once for payment and then again onto a swipe reader equipped Palm Pilot to collect the mag strip data. Very innovative.
It just goes to show how flawed the whole EFT-POS debit card thing really is. I have a 4 digit pin that I have probably not changed in 15 years. Why have I not changed it? Well simply because I have never been asked to. Now compare that to my internet banking where the bank gave me an 8 digit number for the user name that I can't change (it took me a while to remember that one) and an 8 character password that I can change. Seems secure to me.
Looking at the layout of ATM's and EFT-POS terminals you can see how easy it is for someone to look over your shoulder or through a camera to read your PIN. Sure, you can try and shield it with your other hand or type your PIN so fast that no one could possibly see but seriously how realistic are any of these options? Amazing how just a single 4 digit PIN gives 'access all areas'.
I remember a time before EFT-POS when once a week I received a little brown envelope that contained my wages for the week. I could choose to bank some (or not) or spend the lot. The choice was mine. No such option these days, all my pay goes straight to the bank who then charge me to take it out of the bank. How ironic.
Last year I approached the pay department at the company I work for and asked if I could have my salary paid to me in cash. You would think it a simple request but no. You see these days cash costs money. In other words the bank would charge my company to obtain the cash to pay my wages!
I have to use the banking system, I have no other option. I am an ATM and EFT-POS fee cash cow therefore the bank has to protect me and my money. Ironically you can see that any new measures introduced by the bank to protect me from skimmers will be passed onto me in the form of increased bank fees. Another rort!
My preference is cash and a shoe box under the bed. The reality is something quite different.

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Permalink to ATM Skimming | Add a comment (4 comments) | Main Index

Comment by paradoxsm, on 3-Apr-2006 13:42

We are the first country to embrace a nationwide cashless society and the banks got us hooked and now fleee us for the highest bank charges in the world, even the 5c coin is going to encourage this. Eftpos charges are a scam, 30c min (westpac do a 5c special) ATM withdrals are a shocker 50c minimum. It used to be free a few years back over the counter. Dishonour fees where once a manual process that was quite some work., it was charged $15, now it's fully automated, it's $35 and the bank does nothing. banks "base fees" just for having money with them! c'mon!!!!! There are better options, In NZ an unlimited account will cost $15 with ANZ or kiwibank, In Australia, $5. even phoning phone banking more than 6 times a month costs 50c a pop after that, Hardly costs bank anything, 0800 numbers don't work either. (I have a very very old BNZ video on some hideous hardware, came with the old EFTPOS server I have with 4 Pentium 60's.. and 1GB ram in early custom 68 Pin SIMMS..... scary)

Comment by juha, on 3-Apr-2006 14:08

We are supposed to get "Smart Cards" this year, which will be a silver bullet and protect us against all fraud. Whoops! Tui Moment there. Skimming is so inelegant though. I wrote about Piotr Zielinsky and Mike Bond's research for the Herald in 2003... paper here: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~pz215/ Herald article behind that annoying $3 Premium Content wall though... not that I get a penny of that. :\

Comment by cokemaster, on 3-Apr-2006 17:03

I rarely use debit cards nowdays. Only when the store doesn't take credit cards. What can I say? I hardly carry cash at all, so ATM skimming will hardly work on me but if they skim at the point of sale, I'm probably going get hit sooner or later.

Comment by Bart Smeele, on 28-Jun-2006 00:29

From: 'A now MUCH wiser fraud victim'. Unfortunately New Zealanders have been living in a 'fool's paradise' for far too many years when it comes to knowing about or caring about ATM (and POS) fraud... i.e. card skimming... PIN compromise via 'wireless interface' pin-hole cameras... etc... etc... etc. This is due to two factors... the first being the traditional "ignorance is bliss" issue... and the second being that banks are being MUCH LESS than open and forth-right about the true state of the ATM fraud matter... seemingly in an efffort to avoid scaring cardholders into not using ATMs and having that adversely affect their 'bottom-line'. Another factor that compounds the ATM and POS fraud challenge for cardholders is that bank staff are often very poorly trained in many aspects relating to ATM and card fraud in general... and that some banks (i.e. Westpac!!!) will do all possible to blame the cardholder on the basis of suppositions and regardless of the provable facts. Trust me... I know from bitter personal experience that this is how they work. My advice is... 'be afraid... be VERY afraid of ATMs and POS terminals'. They are HIGHLY vulnerable places to use your cards and you could all to easily become an innocent victim.! After having many thousands stolen... doing battle with a very 'hard-headed' and illogical bank for some 3 years... and having my credit rating destroyed I don't mind admitting that I've become somewhat paranoid about using credit cards and ATM or POS terminals.In fact I won't use my cards in an ATM (or anywhere else for that matter) unless it's an absolute emergency and there is no other alternative. Take care out there.!

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