Just as the flames of the shame that have followed the name of Dammy Krane, the embattled Nigerian singer in the TapsJets busted credit cards fraud scandal has continued to burn in the Nigerian media space, Celeb Police forensics unit have deemed it fit to educate the public on how grand theft and credit card crimes are committed. The idea is to give a sneak peek into the inner workings of G-boys worldwide (cyber fraudsters). Did that sound like G-World Wide? It’s purely unintended pun. But seriously, credit card theft is a much bigger threat than the Dammy Krane scandal.
Firstly, What Are Credit Cards?
Basically, these are advance credit options issued by financial institutions that allow the holder to shop within a credit limit as long as there is a guaranteed regular source of income to fix the deficit at a particular period. This is the standard global practice. Although this is not yet deployed in Nigeria, your automated teller machine card, ATM, can be said to be your credit card since you can use it to shop and pay for goods and services physically or online as well.
How then do these fraudsters steal these credit cards when the physical cards are with the owners? Welcome to the darknet, the dangerous world of cyber crime! According to our research, this happens via a number of ways:
1. First, get hold of your actual card – either through picking a pocket, distraction thefts or more direct approaches. The wonder of the internet means that once the card is in their hands, if they use the right shopping site, they can buy quite a lot with it rather qickly – PIN or no PIN.
2. The second way to get your card details is to read your card then either clone it or use the details. Card skimmers – that read and record the data on your card – are most frequently used on cash machines, often accompanied with a camera or someone standing nearby to see your PIN. Cards can be copied in moments and then used to take money out or buy things. But you can also have your card details read by an unscrupulous shop worker, or even remotely using wireless technology if you have a contactless card.
3. The third way to get your card details is from a device or site where they’ve been stored. So keeping your card number on your phone or tablet, or in an email or similar, means if that’s lost then fraudsters can find the information using a quick search then use the details for themselves.
Additionally, social media is another rich source of data – with full names, birthdays, addresses and even the names of parents and pets available. If you accidentally befriend a fraudster, have your privacy settings open or a criminal gets access to your or a friend’s account, that gives them a rather strong chance of being able to walk through a bank’s security questions and pretend to be you.
Failing that, some attempt to hack sites that have your data stored, potentially collecting millions of card details at once.
The 7 biggest Card Fraud Patterns
There are seven main types of card fraud:
- Card-not-present fraud – when card details are used to make purchases that don’t require you to physically present a card, such as online, through the post or over the telephone.
- Lost and stolen cards – using a lost or stolen card to make a purchase or to withdraw cash.
- Application fraud – using stolen, discarded or fake documents to open an account in someone else’s name.
- Account take over – taking over another person’s card. Personal information is used to trick a card company and the fraudster can carry out transactions from the account, request changes to the account or ask for a new card to be issued.
- Card not received fraud – Cards stolen in transit between the card issuer and the card holder. Especially bad where there are communal letterboxes.
- Cash machine fraud – Criminals target ATMs to steal cards and card data. This varies from peering over someone’s shoulder to see their PIN, then stealing their card to using devices attached to an ATM which can copy card details and PINs or trap the card in the machine.
- Counterfeit card fraud – Creating fake cards using details from the magnetic strip of a real card. These are generally used overseas in countries that don’t have Chip & PIN.
How to beat the Fraudsters?
To try and stop the threats, the following tips might come in handy to help you stay clear of the fraudsters:
- Protect your cards and your personal information:
- Never provide debit or credit card numbers or PINs or other personal information in response to an unsolicited email, online or telephone request. Genuine banks and card providers never request information in this way;
- When you receive a new payment card – remember to sign the back;
- Never let your card or card details out of sight when making a transaction;
- Protect your personal information on social media, use privacy settings and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know;
- Don’t use the same passwords for social media sites and online banking;
- Access your online financial accounts by typing the web address into your browser;
- Buy a shredder to dispose of card statements and other documents containing personal or financial information you no longer need;
- Always PIN protect smartphones and other mobile devices.
- Protect your PIN and keep it secret:
- Choose a strong PIN. Don’t use obvious numbers, for example, the year you were born, your wedding anniversary, telephone or house number. Fraudsters can easily pick-up this kind of personal information from social media profiles and online directories.
- Memorise your PIN – don’t write it down or disclose it to anyone else;
- Don’t use the same PIN for all your payment cards;
- When using an ATM or other card reader always shield your PIN with your hand or wallet.
- Online safety measures:
- Regularly update your computer’s firewall or antivirus software;
- When shopping online, always look carefully at the site for secure transaction symbols. The web address should start ‘https’ and the page should display the secure payment ‘lock’ logo;
- If possible, always shop or bank online from your personal computer;
- Always log-off from a site once you’ve completed a transaction.
- Regularly review card and bank statements:
- Check statements on a regular basis and look out for unusual or unauthorised transactions;
- Contact your card provider immediately if you suspect fraud.
- Diary dates:
- Note when you should be receiving a new payment card. If it doesn’t arrive when you expect it, contact the card provider as soon as possible.
According to a UK Mirror report, about £567.5 million was stolen via credits last year alone. That’s over half a billion pounds! Sadly, this does not happen abroad alone as there are numerous cases locally where Nigerians have fallen victims to same. Even though our statistics in this part of the world is on backward side of poor, the total money lost to these schemers can only be imagined.
As a final word, it’s far easier to guard against fraud if you’re aware of the different types of scams criminals operate and know the warning signs to look out for. It’s Dammy Krane and his accomplice everyone is talking about now, but you never can tell who is out to defraud you in this regard. Caution is the word.