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May 1, 2010 / douglasac

Protecting Your Money When Using Cards

EFTPOS is becoming increasingly common today: no need to worry about having cash, just swipe your card, follow the prompts and SHAZAM!, the goods\services are yours. However, as always, there are people exploiting this technology. And here is the Douglas Concise Guide to Protecting Your Money at EFTPOS Terminals and ATMs.

Quick! Identify this object!

Image found at WAtoday.com.au

If you answered with EFTPOS terminal, you would be correct. If you answered with Ingenico PX328 EFTPOS terminal, you would be even more correct for that is what it is.

Why are the model number and manufacturer relevant, I hear you ask? Well, it’s relevant because this is a decade old model of EFTPOS terminal. It is easily tampered with: as it has no tamper proofing, anyone can open it up and put something nasty in there that will skim your card and nobody’s the wiser.

These terminals can be seen mainly at McDonalds and Australia Post. The local GoLo store uses an early model of these (as in, from the mid to late 90’s).

Rule of thumb: if you see this model of EFTPOS terminal, be careful. I’m not saying that every PX328 is booby trapped, but don’t assume that it can’t happen.

Newer EFTPOS terminals have all sorts of things that can prove if it’s been tampered with (they can throw up errors and all sorts).

Other miscellany card security tips

Simple points to remember:

  • If there is something on an ATM that asks you to swipe or insert your card into something else before putting it into the ATM, don’t. This is a skimming device and only a fool would swipe\insert\whatever it.
  • If someone is offering you help at an ATM, shoo them away, they aren’t.
  • Using your less dominant hand (i.e. left hand if you’re a right handed person), cover your dominant hand as you enter your PIN on any ATM or EFTPOS terminal (on EFTPOS terminals, if you can hold it, it can be more comfortable and therefore feel less awkward). This prevents people from seeing it.
  • Identify this object:

    Image from BNZ
    It is an ATM green sleeve. There are a couple of variants, a common one being round instead of rectangular like this one. What this does is ensure that skimming devices are nigh on impossible to install on an ATM equipped with this. If you can see the happy padlock as a moving hologram it’s the real thing. If you have a choice between an ATM with a green sleeve and one without, choose the one with the green sleeve. Newer ANZ and Westpac ATMs tend to have these.
  • If the ATM\EFTPOS terminal looks like it’s been tampered with, don’t use it. In fact, some will go so far as to say, I may have been tampered with and am out of order.
  • Don’t tell your PIN to anyone.
  • Where possible, always use your chip on your credit card (it’s far more secure). Most EFTPOS terminals will insist that you insert a chipped card if you attempt to swipe it, usually accompanied by an angry beep.
  • Unless you absolutely must (i.e. some weird countries), sign for a credit transaction as opposed to using a PIN. Far more secure in my books: four digits vs. an almost unique doodle… which is more secure. Hohum.
  • If you do notice some irregularities, call your bank and let them know immediately. The quicker you do something about it the quicker they can put a stop to it, investigate it and refund you your money.

So, now that we’ve been educated in commonsense, I hereby send you out into the world to spend, spend, spend!

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. snowy / May 1 2010 11:52 PM

    This should be useful for the people who really need it.

    Fortunately, we have similar measures on machines here too (as should anywhere in the world that can afford to), but I’ll bear this in mind all the same.

  2. douglasac / May 12 2010 11:02 PM

    An interesting thing to note is that France was one of the first countries in the world to do Chip and PIN (dating back to the early 90’s when it was horrendously expensive).

    PIN I am against, but chips I am all for, yet there are still banks out there issuing credit cards that have no chips (mainly credit unions here in Australia, but Westpac and Bendigo Bank are guilty as well) when it’s fast becoming common and it is proven to be a helluva lot more secure. American Express cards here do not have chips on them yet for some reason (probably because AmEx are too pigheaded to admit that they aren’t infallible or some such)

    So, if you’re from the Bendigo Bank, Westpac, American Express or a credit union, please hurry the hell up and put chips on all your cards.

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