Fraud series: 4 things to look for in retail stores

When you travel to the United States, you know you can swipe your card to make a purchase. Not so much in Canada anymore.

When you travel to the United States, you know you can swipe your card to make a purchase. Not so much in Canada anymore. Now your card requires a PIN to ensure the transaction is not just about what's on your card, but also about what's in your brain. That PIN is a second factor, and one that makes it difficult to make a cloned card useful for criminals, but they persist...

Walk into a store and look for these 4 things to have a sense of whether the retailer is ready or not:

  1. A chip-and-pin (EMV) terminal, not just a swanky doo-dad. If you can buy things without punching in a code, request an explanation.
  2. Look around. Do you see well marked surveillance cameras? These are used to deter thieves as well as to conduct investigations after the fact. Bad guys fear them. You should like them.
  3. Inspect the point-of-sale terminal. Is it flimsy? Does it look like the keyboard is sturdy? Bad guys often cram it full of electronics to steal your card details. Be sure to only trust the stronger units and report the weaker/broken ones.
  4. Can you reach the back of the cashier's computer? If unprotected, simply installing a spying tool is a breeze. Such tools can be plugged into your keyboard of mouse jack to capture mouse or key activity.
Rest assured, retailers have stringent standards to comply with, including PCI-DSS, federal Privacy law, and other statutes & best practices. They know what they have, but not what they don't have, so it is always worth having a discussion about the protective measures in place to safeguard your payment data.  

About the Author

Claudiu Popa


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