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Delta Police fraud sqaud offers tips on high tech heist protection
Today's technology has made life easier for society in general—even crooks who are adopting slick, new ways of stealing money.
Thankfully, there are some low-tech, common sense ways for merchants and their customers to help protect themselves.
That was the message from two of the Delta Police Department's fraud section members who addressed a recent Ladner Business Association meeting.
Constables Sukh Sidhu and Aman Bachra told the group that thieves don't have to work as hard as they once did to siphon away funds electronically from your bank account.
Sidhu explained that in the past one way they accomplished that was switching a debit card reader at a store's cash till with one that could record the information on the card's magnetic strip. They then had to try and watch the user punch in their personal identification number (PIN) and later retrieve their phoney card reader and match up the PIN with the debit card's information. That would allow them to make a cloned card which could be used to make purchases or withdraw funds from an ATM.
Today, the criminals still have to switch the debit card reader, but they use Bluetooth (a wireless information system) embedded in the fake debit card reader to send them the information.
"They can just sit in the parking lot outside the store and collect your banking information on their laptop," Sidhu said. "And after about an hour or two they simply drive away."
The crooks' debit reader stays behind, and in some cases, the merchant is none the wiser.
One easy way to combat this kind of scam is for merchants to secure their debit card readers to their counters. That way it is harder for thieves to swap out the machine with their own, which is usually an exact or extremely close match to the legitimate device. Engraving the device and checking for those marks each day is another tip.
Those are not a new strategies, but Sidhu says it still amazes him how many businesses still do not follow the advice.
Consumers are also not protecting themselves enough, he added, alluding to instances where debit card users do not adequately conceal the buttons they press when entering their PIN.
Sidhu said it may have to do with Canadian society being too polite and feeling uncomfortable in trying to screen their transaction from those nearby when making a purchase.
Away from the retail environment, Bachra said it is also important to guard against losing potentially valuable personal information.
He said boarding passes used by the airlines to speed you through the terminal can carry plenty of that on their magnetic strips, so when you travel, "don't simply throw them away."
"We live in a world of convenience now, and that also means less security," added Const. John Smith who works out of the Ladner Community Police Station.