How to protect yourself from credit card skimmers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

How to protect yourself from credit card skimmers

Technology exists to provide card-holders an extra measure of protection. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Technology exists to provide card-holders an extra measure of protection. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kevin Ferry (Source: WAVE 3 News) Kevin Ferry (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The Mexican restaurant's security camera recorded the gathering and the man who paid the tab. The Mexican restaurant's security camera recorded the gathering and the man who paid the tab.
Adrian Lauff (Source: WAVE 3 News) Adrian Lauff (Source: WAVE 3 News)

TAYLORSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Property thieves have burned Kevin Ferry twice. That's partly why he noticed the top-of-the-line dine on his debit card dime, within hours.

"I check my bank balance on line twice a day," he said. "Dinner for six steaks, margaritas."

The total from the mean at El Nopal off Fern Valley Road came to $264.58, counting the $40 tip.

The Mexican restaurant's security camera recorded the gathering and the man who paid the tab. His signature is illegible, but it debited Ferry's wife's account at Green Bank, a Texas-based commercial lender with a branch in the headquarters of Louisville's Yum! Brands.

[MORE: Phone or wallet? Contactless payment increases credit information security]

Peggy Ferry is a technology specialist for Yum!.
  
"I knew I'd been 'skimmed,' but I can't think of how," Ferry said.

"One of the more common ways is a card reader placed over top of a card reader at a gas station or an ATM," said Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Louisville Adrian Lauff. "But these devices have been miniaturized to the point where they can't be detected by the naked eye. Some are installing pinhole cameras that can read your pin entry as you're typing it in. "

Green Bank's ATM is inside Yum! headquarters. An attendant staffs a desk within sight of the terminal, Ferry said. He doubts that he or his wife were skimmed at a gas station.  

"We use the same two near home," he said.

"The equipment needed to produce a physical credit card with a mag stripe on it--we're not talking anything expensive," Lauff said. "Even a modified tape recorder can do it."

But technology exists to provide card-holders an extra measure of protection.

"Near-field communications. Contact-less payment," Lauff said. "Many stores have it and don't use it." 

The technology allows you to wave your card, or credit/debit data imbedded in your mobile device, over a reader at a point-of-sale terminal.

"These are what used token-ized transactions,” Lauff said. "Imagine you have a new credit card number for every single transaction you make. Google Wallet, Android Pay and Apple-Pay will list vendors who allow swipe technology."

"I think I'm gonna start carrying cash more often now," Ferry said. 

He's happy that Green Bank shut off the card immediately and issued new numbers. He filed a report with Louisville Metro Police last Friday.

"Got the case mid-morning," LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell confirmed Tuesday. "I'm not sure where she (the detective) is in the investigation."

"I can't let it go," Ferry said. “I want it taken care of."

The dollar amount makes it unlikely.

"We're primarily a commercial bank," Green Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Franklin Patterson, Jr. told WAVE 3 News Tuesday. "We'll just eat it and move on, but VISA might investigate if it can find a pattern."

Green Bank has issued more than 8,000 debit cards, Patterson said. Its monthly losses average about $6,000 to $8,000.

Lauff himself has been a skimming victim.  

"They had a card and ID," he said. "Charged $400 for a hotel room at the London Olympics."

The easiest way to make your credit, debit and other personal data more skim-resistant could be a call or visit to your bank.

"Set it up so you're texted every time there's a transaction with your credit card that doesn't require physical presence," Lauff said. "That'd be online or at a gas pump. You can shut it down almost immediately."

Copyright 2015 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly