Thursday 1 October, 2020

Card skimming on rise in T&T; $1.5M already stolen from accounts

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Police are reporting an increase in card skimming activity in Trinidad and Tobago.

Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) at the Fraud Squad, Curtis Julien noted that the number of reports has increased in 2020.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Julien noted that for the year so far, $1.5 million has already been stolen from the bank accounts of over 700 people.

"Within the first quarter January to April 2019, there were 253 reports in the Port of Spain area and 206 reports in the Southern area, totalling a value of $2.2 million which was skimmed from persons' accounts. For that said period 2020, we had 494 reports in the Port of Spain area, 264 reports in the Southern area, totalling $1.5 million."

"These statistics represent both a rise and a drop in the two categories. Firstly, the reports to date have risen mainly because of the type of activity that has been taking place during this lockdown period of the COVID-19. There would not have been skimming at the ATM machines, but mainly taking place at the point of sale machines. These point of sale machines are very had to detect."

He noted that the scammers are now using point of sale machines to capture data of customers, after which a data encoder is used to print cards.

The Acting ASP revealed that Fraud Squad recently recovered point of sale machines, as well as card printing equipment.

"These point of sale machines were not sold anywhere in the Caribbean or Latin American region. They were sold - one from California, one from Finland and the other from Hungary, which goes to say that the person who was in possession of these machines have some international links. Now, these point of sale skimmers are for the more fact of reading your data, capturing your data and they only give receipts that would say "communication error" or "transaction" failed."

He is advising customers to be vigilant.

"We need to safeguard ourselves from this type of activity. Most of the persons using their cards, swiping their cards with point of sale machines usually do not pay attention to the activity that is taking place with their card because they may be looking at the item they purchase or may be looking at some other item. It is important that we keep our eyes on our card. If there is any suspicion of the activity taking place you must immediately raise a red flag and discontinue that transaction. Contact your financial institution and of course, do your self-checks."

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