Officials are reporting a wave of credit and debit card attacks targeting point of sale swapping, skimming of card data, and hacking into payment processors. Reports say the U.S. Secret Service, among others, are in the process of investigating a multistate crime spree.

The Oklahoma Bankers Association commented, “It is beyond apparent our bankers are taking great losses on these cards and we also need to explore creative ideas to mitigate these losses. It is in the best interest of retailers, bankers, processors and card providers to find ways to limit these losses so that debit and credit cards can remain a viable method of payment.”

Organized criminals have long been ramping up and coordinating multiple attacks. They continually find inventive ways to circumvent existing systems.

Electronic funds transfers at the point of sale (EFTPOS) skimming is when the POS is swapped out.

EFTPOS (electronic funds transfers at the point of sale) skimming occurs when the point of sale terminal is replaced with a skimming device. People commonly swipe both credit and debit cards through the in-store machines to pay for goods and services at these outlets. In Australia, fast food chains, convenience stores, and specialty clothing stores are bearing the brunt of the crime. McDonald’s is among the outlets whose EFTPOS machines have been targeted.

Last year, legitimate EFTPOS devices at McDonald’s outlets across Perth Australia were replaced with compromised card-skimming versions, cheating 3500 customers out of $4.5 million. They actually replaced the entire device you see at the counter when you order your Big Mac!

Officials say the problem is so bad they urged people to change credit and debit card PIN numbers weekly to avoid the possibility of having their account balances wiped out, as it was likely more cases would be identified.

Revisiting the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s statement, specifically, “It is in the best interest of retailers, bankers, processors and card providers to find ways to limit these losses so that debit and credit cards can remain a viable method of payment,” it sounds a little desperate to me. Credit and debit cards as we know them, with their magnetic strips, are easily compromised and frequently targeted by criminals. Now that Mexico and Canada are going chip and PIN, getting “creative” to save the mag stripe is going to take a lot more than a class in creativity. Sounds like a serious upgrade is in order.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses credit and debit card fraud on CNBC. Disclosures

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