Debit card users may have had a shock this week to find their cards suddenly weren’t working.
That’s because a card skimming operation has been taking place in Chilliwack, at an undisclosed business. Banks and credit unions were calling their customers as early as Thursday this week to inform them that their cards had been deactivated as a protective measure against fraud.
RCMP say the investigation is still in its early stages.
Envision Financial’s website explains how card skimming works and why customers need to be wary.
They say “card skimming involves the unauthorized copying of electronic data from your debit or other cards. Hidden equipment typically obtains your PIN (i.e. cameras or false/altered PIN pads). The stolen data is then encoded onto a counterfeit card, which is used to withdraw funds without your knowledge.”
There are many ways this can happen, either at automatic bank machines or debit card point-of-sale terminals.
Envision explains that at ABM machines, a card reader can be placed on either the ABM itself, typically over top of the legitimate card reader, or on the entrance door to the ABM if there is a card reader device on the door for access. Hidden cameras are strategically placed to capture you entering your PIN.
At debit card (point-of-sale or POS) terminals, the merchant may swipe your card in the legitimate POS terminal and then swipe your card a second time in a card reader device designed to capture the electronic data on your card. Either a camera or a “shoulder surfer” captures you entering your PIN.
It’s not always detectable, they add.
“At a POS terminal, the electrical components inside the PIN pad may be altered to capture data from your debit card and capture your PIN as it is entered. In these cases, it is virtually impossible to detect the altered PIN pad as most of the alterations are done to the electrical components inside the PIN pad.”
Counterfeit cards are useless without your PIN.