Card skimming has become a serious problem in South Africa, with an increasing number of locals falling victim to this type of fraud.
This type of crime refers to the cloning of payment card details and the recording of the victim’s PIN through the installation of concealed hardware on ATMs or point-of-sale machines.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has repeatedly warned South African banking customers to be wary when using ATMs and making card payments, as it can be very difficult to tell if these devices have a skimmer installed.
SABRIC acting CEO Susan Potgieter told MyBroadband that card skimming can occur anywhere, and people should always be wary of suspicious-looking devices.
To learn more about how to spot a card skimmer installed on a point-of-sale terminal, click here.
Card skimming hotspots
Card skimming is on the rise across the country, although it is most prevalent in specific provinces.
“SABRIC has seen high instances of POS card skimming in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga,” Potgieter said.
She added that this type of crime can occur in “any environment where a bank card transaction may occur when making use of a POS device or an ATM”.
This means that you should never assume a point-of-sale device is safe to use, even when dining at your favourite restaurant or buying your groceries.
As card skimming is prevalent in all payment situations, it is important to inspect payment terminals for any irregularities every time you pay using your card.
We can also infer that this type of crime occurs more often in areas where high volumes of payments are processed, such as petrol stations, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and ATMs.
Potgieter provided some advice for South Africans concerned about card skimmers installed on POS devices.
“It is important to note that when a credit or debit card is handed over for payment that the card is dipped into the POS device and not swiped,” she said.
“Always ensure that the card is inserted into the POS device in your presence and you are not distracted from observing the transaction.”
She added that users should have extra security features enabled through their bank to determine whether transactions are processed legitimately.
“In the event that multiple attempts are made to transact on a POS terminal, inspect the receipts to determine why a transaction was declined,” Potgieter said.
“Notification of your processed transaction/s should be received by you via SMS, provided you have activated this service. If for some reason you are suspicious after any transaction, change your PIN immediately.”
The images below (courtesy of a report by Krebs on Security) show how suspicious POS devices can be identified.