Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Watch out for ‘card’ crooks

Published:Thursday | January 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

As Jamaica inches closer to becoming a cashless society, it has become more convenient for a significant number of Jamaicans to pay for their purchases with 'plastic' rather than walk with cash.

However, instead of worrying about being robbed of your cash, the concern has now shifted to the possibility of being a victim of debit- and credit-card fraud.

Over the Christmas holidays, we were reminded by the Fraud Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that since 2011, there have been marked increases in cases of credit/debit-card fraud.

As consumers, we must become more vigilant and socially conscious regarding the use of our 'plastic', especially since, in many instances, the masterminds of these schemes are working in collaboration with dishonest employees.

With advances in technology, it has become easier and cheaper to defraud persons of their money. In fact, all it takes is a skimming device that can be easily purchased over the Internet for as little as US$50. These card readers, as they are called, are then installed on Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and handheld 'pinpads' for point-of-sale purchases and used to swindle and aid in identity theft of unsuspecting consumers.

The technology has evolved so much that these skimming devices contain hardware which reads your credit/debit card's magnetic stripe before it enters into the original card slot. These fraudsters can be hundreds of feet away while retrieving your information by wireless. Clearly, there is a role for financial institutions, the police, as well as business establishment to minimise the likelihood of this happening.

Why do we still have ATMs located in isolated areas with little or no physical security in place? It certainly requires a collaborative effort involving the police, financial institutions and consumers to fight fraud monster. There are some simple and basic things a consumer can do to minimise becoming a victim of fraud. It is important that one shields as much as possible one's pin numbers when doing transactions at places of business. Second, do not allow anyone to access to your plastic without you being there to witness the transaction and, last but by no means least, check your bank statement regularly to ensure that no suspicious transaction was done.

As we journey into 2015, let us be mindful that danger is always lurking around and that there are those who are scheming to do us harm.

Wayne Campbell

waykam@yahoo.com