We no longer need to concern ourselves with having the correct foreign currency as our credit and debit cards are accepted all over the world. Carrying cash in our wallets has become superfluous, not to mention dangerous.
However, credit and debit cards carry their own hazards. Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the black magnetic strip of a credit or debit card. It is a more direct version of a phishing scam but with a greater success rate.
Card skimming devices come in different shapes and sizes. The smaller the device, the better it can be concealed in order to allow swift cloning of your card whilst you are distracted. Card skimming devices are easily sourced by criminals and are, therefore, prolific. This technique is certainly not restricted to South Africa and is on the increase worldwide because the perpetrator’s identity is easily concealed. They don’t have to risk committing a ‘violent’ crime in order to obtain funds illegally.
Our visitors could have enjoyed a hearty South African meal but, by not having the card transaction conducted in their presence, they then stood the risk of having their cards cloned.
Card skimming, like other white collar crimes, can never be completely prevented. The more we implement preventative solutions, stricter security controls and continuous monitoring systems, the more the perpetrators will adapt their approach and update their techniques. This is why we still see reports of people falling victim to card skimming. Although the latest ‘chip-n-pin’ technology is a step forward to combating this kind of fraud, there have been reports that criminals are already finding ways around this added protection.
Don’t allow your card to be taken away from you to complete a transaction at any venue. Don’t use your card at an ATM that looks like it may have been tampered with; rather use a different ATM. We can only educate ourselves to identify the red flags and be more vigilant in our daily approach. Arm yourself with knowledge and don’t leave your valuable information behind!