Identity Theft Articles

Skimming Devices Target Payment Card Processors

High levels of internet usage may be associated with identity theft.

Location may have played a larger role in a recent series of credit-skimming crimes, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle. Berkeley police are currently looking for suspects who stole credit and debit card information from several students by attaching inconspicuous skimmers to devices like ATMs, gas pumps and other payment card processors.

This information can then be used to make fraudulent transactions - or may be sold online for a profit. Consumers who fall victims to such crimes may take days or weeks to notice, according to the report.

"When you or I go up and purchase our gas, the device doesn't look out of place. Everything goes through just fine," Charles White, assistant special agent for the U.S. Secret Service, was quoted as saying. "Then they'll sell the information over the internet."

Investigators are currently looking into the case, but have yet to discover the point of compromise. Similar skimming incidents were reported last month at a Salt Lake Valley gas station. Electronic devices attached to gas pumps would transmit credit or debit card data via bluetooth to nearby fraudsters, according to a report by ABC 4 News.

One way to avoid these schemes is to stick to cash when filling up a gas tank. White also suggested that consumers avoid payment card processors that look suspicious.

They may also look into credit monitoring services that will allow them to keep stronger tabs on their account activity. This can decrease the time it takes for them to notice fraudulent or erroneous charges and, consequently, allow them to notify their lender and police department much more quickly.

This can minimize the harm to one's credit report, as well as the time it takes to resolve such issues. Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission can also increase the likelihood that fraudsters get caught for their actions.

A recent report by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that people age 18 to 24 were the quickest to take defensive action against identity theft, but the slowest to notice it. They were less likely than any other age group to take advantage of credit monitoring services. Because they take nearly twice as long to notice fraud as any other group, these Millenials are often victimized for significantly longer periods of time.