Understanding Skimming in 90 seconds
Contactless fraud, or skimming, is a global phenomenon that affects everyone. The scariest thing about it is how easy it is to fall victim. The reason for this? A combination of two things:
1) the genuine ease of the crime itself, which makes it popular.
2) the enormous numbers of potential victims to choose from, allowing criminals to cast a wide net.
Reserve Bank figures show cash usage and ATM transactions are declining. Instead, more and more Australians are taking advantage of the convenience of ‘tap and go’ payment systems, that use RFID technology, like MasterCard’s Pay Pass or Visa’s payWave- in fact, over 75% of all face-to-face Visa transactions are now payWave.
Australians are the biggest users of tap and go payments in the world, all adding up to over $2 billion per week spent contactlessly. Read More
The monumental uptake of ‘tap and go’ technology and the unfounded trust that consumers place in its security has not been lost on crooks who have been busy staking out the most lucrative places to lurk in order to best take advantage of the expanding market of insecure credit card details. The numbers speak for themselves:
According to the Australian Payments Clearing Association, Australians lost $521 million to card fraud in the 2016 financial year! The rate of card fraud increased to 74.2 cents per $1,000 in 2016, and the rate of traditional ATM skimming (in which false readers are attached to ATMs, skimming victims who swipe their cards and enter their PIN) is falling, while modern contactless skimming and online fraud are growing at exponential rates.
In 2015, Western Australia’s Police Commissioner stated that he wanted RFID embedded credit cards banned, (view article) claiming the lack of security around the technology was helping fuel the State’s rising crime problems. He noted the undeniable link between ‘tap and go’ credit cards and a rise in theft. The Police Commissioner is not alone in wanting the technology banned. Victoria Police have made similar statements, blaming ‘tap and go’ technology for an extra 5000 offenses in 2014.
Although they are the most publicised cases, skimming is a threat to more than just your credit card. Skimmers can steal information from many other items that we use on a daily basis because many of the items that we depend on most are embedded with RFID technology. Our passports, identity cards, transport cards, and workplace access tags along with all the personal information that they hold are all at risk, and while you can easily change your bank card PIN, you can not do the same for your date of birth, iris or fingerprints.
If a criminal skims the information on your RFID access tag, (your workplace access pass for instance), they can transition from being just an electronic thief to a burglar able to access and steal tangible things, all the while leaving your electronic fingerprints at the crime scene.
With such a diverse range of items that are as ubiquitous as they are important to our everyday lives compromised, truly everyone is at risk from skimming, yourself included. So what are you going to do about it?