In this article, we are going to talk about card cloning and how to avoid it.
The embracing of plastic and mobile money necessitated by the cash shortages that hit our country Zimbabwe has been highly affected by card cloning/skimming. Card Cloning, also called skimming, requires the copying information on a credit card using an electronic device or software, then transferring the information from the stolen card to a new card or to rewrite an existing card with the information.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, in its first quarter report of 2018 highlighted that more than 200 000 worth of transactions were intercepted by card cloners.
A number of factors have contributed to these shenanigans.
Old bank cards and their infrastructure
Most banks in Zimbabwe are using the magnetic stripe cards for their customers. Magnetic stripe card are fairly insecure as they allow skimming seamlessly as the data is not secure. Our banks are not shifting to secure technologies because of the expenses associated with the replacement of these cards. Ideal bank cards would be those with chips. These are a unique way of storing data on them, where the data is constantly changing, resultantly, it is difficult to extract. When a magnetic stripe card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card's magnetic stripe. The stripe contains the credit card number and expiration date and the credit card holder's full name.
Customers failing to secure their bank Cards
Some money changers who have hard cash are “selling” the notes at percentages which go to as much as 25% for bond notes. As a result, in a way of running away from these percentages most customers have the tendency of letting go their cards to people whom they do not suspect to do any criminal activities. Because of the cash shortages, some people leave their bank cards with shop keepers, petrol attendants or anyone who is in a position to get hard cash. This now gives leeway for card cloners to get all the time to clone the cards. Some of these shop keepers are recruited to be part of a well-connected card cloners. The shop attendants are used to identify possible target with large sums of money.
Here are some of the tips to ensure you are safe from card cloning:
Always watch where you shop, card cloning usually occurs in take-aways, filling stations and supermarkets.
Always make sure your bank card be it credit/debit card is well secured if you do not have it with you.
Where you are withdrawing money from an ATM, check that the ATM has not been tampered with
Never give your credit/debit card to someone you don’t know/trust
Never reveal your PIN to anyone
Lookout for suspicious movements when transacting. Take note of people around who may request to assist you to clean your card to make it work better. They will actually be swiping it through a skimmer to steal your credentials.
Never allow anyone close to you when transacting. Get assistance from security
Activate SMS alerts with your bank to detect any transactions on your account
Alert the police or security where you suspect there is something amiss before it is too late.
Where you think your card has been cloned also, alert your bank as soon as possible to ensure that they block it from further transactions.
Sign up for bank alerts from your bank. These will help you to monitor and activity on your bank accounts.