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Credit Card Skimming: why we are all in Danger

 

By: Snethemba Ngcobo

The rise in credit card scams in our society is quite alarming and the latest that is gaining popularity in Johannesburg has most people opting to pay their restaurant bills in cold-hard-cash.  It is rumored that waiters across South Africa especially in The Western Cape and Gauteng provinces have now gotten access to fake speed point machines. These machines are created to look like normal speed points but are actually designed to take the information from your credit card including the pin you punch in to allow the thief to use your details to make purchases later. Often times the details are sourced in South Africa but are used in another country.

After you ask for the bill and choose to pay via card it is expected that the waiter will bring the speed point to you and then swipe your card and you will then proceeded to put in your pin when the machine requests it. When you are being scammed however look out for the following…instead of the machine printing out a receipt the waiter will hold on to the machine watch it for a few seconds, then they will tell you that the machine doesn’t work and that they are going to have to exchange it for another one…by then it will be too late. Next thing you know a few hours later or the next day your card will be making transactions in Beijing.  The skimmer machines are not meant to be used in the country but what happens is that someone pays the waiter a cut to collect the necessary information and then the card is duplicated in another country and used there. This makes it is harder for the masterminds to be caught.

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Yesterday a Johannesburg restaurant manager testified on 702 Talk radio on his knowledge about the skimmer machines and said he has caught one of his staff members doing this. He then went on to explain how you can protect yourself from getting your credit card details stolen at a restaurant or anywhere else where a speed point is a payment option. First he said patrons should make sure that if the waiter claims the machine is not working that you hold on to the machine until it prints an error code yes PRINTS, all authorized machines do print error codes, if it doesn’t it is most likely not a regulation speed point. If it doesn’t print out this code proceed to check if there is a serial number on the back of the machine if there is not this is another major alarm bell, the next best step is to still hold on to the machine then ask for the manager. In most cases you will find that the manager won’t recognize the machine, as one used at the restaurant in that case he will have the right to confiscate the machine and also contact the police.

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