Tag Archives: Credit Cards

Personal Data: Who Has Your Back?

By: byron alcantara

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its fourth annual “Who Has Your Back?” report. You might be surprised about which companies have your back and which companies don’t. The report looks at the policies and practices of various technology companies and gives companies stars for certain items that address security concerns of consumers.  Stars are given out if companies “require a warrant for content,” “tell users about government data requests,” “fight for users’ privacy rights in courts,” etc. A maximum of six stars can be obtained by each company.

Some of the top technology companies received gold stars across the board for protecting your data. Google, Apple, and Twitter all have your back and will fight for your privacy rights both in the courts and in Congress.  EFF was pleased to find out that many companies, rocked by high-profile disclosures of the National Surveillance Agency (NSA) spying on online accounts, responded by increasing their commitment to transparency and pushed back against mass surveillance.

The companies with the lowest amount of stars included Snapchat, Amazon, and AT&T. Snapchat was ranked least likely to have your back protecting your personal data. It does not require a warrant for content, does not promise to tell users if their data is sought by the government, and does not publicly oppose mass surveillance.

Amazon.com received credit for requiring a warrant for content. According to the EFF report, Amazon receives credit because of testimony from its Vice President for Global Public Policy, Paul Misener, before the House Judiciary Committee in 2010: “With respect to the content of electronic communications, we believe that ECPA requires law enforcement authorities to obtain a search warrant to compel disclosure. We do not release information without valid process and have not disclosed content without a search warrant.”

Although, Amazon.com’s stance is to obtain a warrant it does not promise users that it will tell them if the government demands data. The company has also never published a transparency report showing government requests for data, does not publish its guidelines for law enforcement seeking access to data, and it has not publicly opposed mass surveillance through a written statement.

Some companies have shown improvement over the past four years including Verizon (earned 4 stars), Microsoft (earned 6 stars), and Tumblr (earned 5 stars). Protecting personal data is extremely important to consumers and it is apparent that it is increasingly important to companies.

NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves

By: bozontee’s golden zebra

Once upon a time, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called There’s a Wocket in my Pocket where a little boy talked to strange creatures living in his house. Nobody really knew what a Wocket was though. NXT-ID, Inc., a biometric authentication company, wants everyone to carry around a Wocket™ in their pocket. The company NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves has plans to launch the Wocket™ in New York City on May 28.

Wocket™ is considered the newest smart wallet heading to the e-commerce market. At the launch consumers and media will get the first look and feel of the smart wallet that claims to zeroize each sale immediately making the Wocket™ useless to thieves.

The patent-pending Wocket™ uses biometric solutions to secure consumers’ mobile platforms. The smart wallet is designed to replace all the cards in your wallet without the need for a smart phone. It will be 3.7”W x 2.75”L x .39”H. The smart wallet only becomes accessible through a unique combination of voice, PIN or pattern. It was designed to keep Wocket™ transactions separate from regular transactions in order to keep Wocket™ transactions secure by zeroizing each card after use.

Wocket™ isn’t the first smart wallet on the market. It is an evolution of the smart wallet’s already on the market. Google offered a smart, virtual wallet to help consumers’ keep their information secure. Google Wallet comes in the form of an app or a card that stores credit card and loyalty card information all in one place.

Security is the biggest concern for smart wallets since they were designed with consumer security in mind. The Google Wallet offers 24/7 fraud monitoring and Google Wallet Purchase Protection. If your phone or card is lost or stolen it can be disabled through a Google Wallet account.  The Wocket™ doesn’t offer a protection program instead it offers a guarantee.

According to the FAQ, the creators say, “while we can’t ensure that your card never gets stolen, we can guarantee that it’s worthless to anyone that gets a hold of it. Each time after the dynamic card is used, it is zeroized. Thus, it is merely blank piece of plastic to any ambitious thief.”

There are very few other smart wallets on the market. The Wocket™’s biggest competitor appears to be Google Wallet, but there are a few other smart wallets attempting to emerge on the scene including the PING wallet and the SmartWallit.

Credit Card Processors Stealing from Business Clients

credit card scamsConsumers already worry about businesses storing and possibly stealing financial information. Now consumers have to worry about the credit card processors stealing the information from businesses. Recently, several proprietors of a credit card processing company  have been indicted on several charges in Phoenix, Arizona.

The various charges include money laundering, wire fraud charges, and changing contract terms among other charges. Sean Clinton Mecham, 36, Ashley Brisbin Mecham, 27, Jonathon L. Cannon, 31, and Jake Brisbin, 26, were all indicted by a federal grand jury.

According to court documents, the accused were executives and employees at Icon Payment Solutions, Axiom Merchant Services and Oracle Payment Services. These companies are all the same company just under different names and they processed credit card payments for retailers.  Prosecutors allege that the quartet were misleading customers, forging the signatures of business owners and deposited $2.9 million of the ill-gotten gains into personal accounts. The money was then used to buy a luxury boat, Maserati cars and off-road trucks for racing.

There were multiple complaints against the quartet and the companies that they owned to the Better Business Bureau.  The accused Continue reading Credit Card Processors Stealing from Business Clients

U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Victims of fraud are increasing on a daily basis. Everyone is a target, but some people are more at risk than others. Elderly people, lonely people, and immigrants are often targets of fraudulent activity. Scams to get credit card and other financial information include email scams for moving large amounts of money, phone calls asking for financial information because a loved one is in trouble, and online matchmaking gone horribly wrong.

People have lost their livelihoods by falling victim to these scams and schemes. The United States Senate wants to put a stop to them and wants to help victims of fraud, especially elderly victims.  A new anti-fraud hotline has been unveiled to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and to receive assistance.

“If you Continue reading U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Don’t Double Swipe Your Credit Card

don't double swipe your credit cardThe Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has given the message “Don’t double-swipe credit cards” to commercial establishments and retailers. The advice is good for customers, too. The practice of “double-swiping” can compromise the data security of credit cardholders.

Alan German, a spokesman for CCAP, said that criminal groups are targeting Point-of-Sale systems, stealing card data and customer PINs.

German told ABS-CBNnews.com, “In many cases, the second swipe results in the credit card’s full data to be retained by the merchant in its own system. Effectively, this unnecessary practice increases the merchants’ vulnerability to potential data compromise… This loose data, so to speak, can then be used to create counterfeit cards, engage in identity theft, and perpetrate fraud.”

The reason “double-swiping” has become common among retailers is because it is often used for customer loyalty programs, record-keeping or other aspects of the retail-operations.  The second swipe of a credit card is most often unrelated to authorization or transaction settlements with the retailer.

German believes that if card issuers and merchants understand the risks in double-swiping cards, they will undertake measures to protect their businesses.  Understanding the risks would also protect credit cardholders from potential identity theft and other types of fraud.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says the bad news is that we are all vulnerable to identity theft, but there are ways to protect yourself: “First, don’t carry your social security number on any documents in your purse or wallet; change your driver’s license or any other documents to different numbers. Next, lock your mailbox and be sure to stop mail when you’re out of town for more than a few days. Shred your trash with a cross cut shredder. Be careful what you say about yourself in public –especially when you’re on your cell phone. Finally, you can protect your computer with a fire-wall, anti-virus software, or a program that removes spyware.”

Another item that the FBI might list on their website to protect customers and retailers is “Don’t double-swipe your card.”

Credit Card Fraud Getting Smarter With Security Code Calls

credit card scamsGenerally speaking, credit card fraud is a pretty straightforward crime. Information is stolen and the card is used fraudulently. These days, however, scam artists are getting smarter. Now, they need only get part of your information. The rest they are getting right out of our own mouths. A recent credit card scheme in Boulder, Colorado is actually using the victims themselves to get the final piece of the puzzle.

Criminals are obtaining partial credit card information and then calling the victims posing as members of the Security and Fraud Department of your credit card. After giving you the information they have for your card, they then ask you about a suspicious purchase that never happened. When you say you did not make that purchase, they then promise you a credit to your account to make up for the fraud.

They confirm your address and then they claim they are starting a fraud investigation. They advise you to call the 1-800 number if you have questions and give you a fake control number. Finally, they have you “verify” that you have the card and ask for your security code on the back of the card. For the exact wording the criminals use, you can go here.

Most victims that have followed up with the real credit card companies quickly realize that they were had. Almost immediately, fraudulent purchases will show up and the gig is up. What folks don’t realize is that real security would never need information off your card. They were the ones that produced the card and gave it to you. They would have no reason to ask you for it.

What this particular scheme tells me is that people need to realize that phone calls from companies are not to be trusted. The bottom line is this. If you get an unsolicited phone call from a bank, credit card company or solicitor of any kind, hang up and call the company directly. Nothing good can come from a phone call that is instigated by someone other than you for business.

Of course, the scary part of this scam is how they got the information off your card in the first place. Perhaps they used a slider, skimmer or simply saw it when you were paying for something. The ways in which information can get stolen these days is amazing, so keep your information close to the vest. Doing so will ensure that you don’t have to worry about this in the future. This is only the newest thing that is happening but they will continue to evolve and change. Keep on top of things and protect your information like gold.

Gas Pumps Are The Latest Credit Card Skimmer Scam

gas pump credit card skimmersWhen it comes to pumping your gas and getting down the road, most of us are usually in a hurry. We want to get in and get out, quick to swipe our card and pump the gas. Lately, identity theft scams are getting kind of impressive. Now, criminals are installing credit card skimmers on gas pumps and ATM machines across the country. These skimmers read the magnetic strip and provide the criminal with all the information they need to go on a spending spree.

So, how do you avoid this latest scam to take your money?

There are no fool-proof ways to avoid the scams completely but there are some ways to minimize your risks. One important first step is to look at the gas pumps and ATMs closely before sharing your card. Most of the places where a skimmer have been installed to steal your information will look changed in some way. This might be an out of place sticker, an extra layer of plastic or even a fake slide. If something looks awry, move on to another gas station and contact the police.

Another way to spot these credit card skimmers is to move the slide with your hands. If they are added after the fact, they will likely fall off or move. When they are made by the manufacturer, they are going to be solid and not move in the least. Criminals will often put in a cover or piece that will move and wiggle when you try to move it.

One of the best ways to avoid such problems Continue reading Gas Pumps Are The Latest Credit Card Skimmer Scam

What You Should Know About Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards

chip and pin technology credit cardsIn a world where keeping your information safe has become the number one priority, it is amazing that the United States has not moved wholesale to chip-and-PIN technology where credit cards are concerned. This chip system eliminates the old fashioned magnetic strip technology and is considered much more secure. Here are some things to consider about this wonderful way of doing business safely:

The primary thing to know about chip-and-PIN technology is that it uses a chip rather than a strip. The difference is that the chip is impossible to get to with readers. You have to stick the card into the reader to actually glean the information. Today’s magnetic strips are being read through our pockets, at gas stations and even at ATMs throughout the United States. This means that our technology is far outdated. Banks now are realizing this stateside and changing over slowly to chip technology. You should ask for one now if you haven’t already.

Another disadvantage of magnetic readers is that most of the world is on the chip now. Europe uses the chip almost Continue reading What You Should Know About Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards

Crime Network Shows Sophistication According to Study

It appears that our online criminal element has become a bit more sophisticated than one might expect. Certainly there have always been smart criminals out there, but this latest finding really boggles the mind. Thomas Holt, a criminologist from Michigan State University, has discovered that some criminals are using an online marketplace to market stolen credit card information.  This group would use an online forum to ask for criminal help such as money laundering or even data. They would then send and receive money electronically.

These criminals were clearly advanced according to Holt, as it showed the capabilities of advanced criminal thinking. This was not a bunch of kids trying to hack sites.

Have you ever gotten emails from someone asking about email, username or password information? This is called phishing and it is what criminals like this depend on. These criminals will steal information from major retailers, banks or other sources. Once they have this information, they will then send out these emails posing as your bank or website retailer.

These criminals are very good at looking realistic Continue reading Crime Network Shows Sophistication According to Study

Can Smartphones Steal Our Credit Card Information?

There was a time when credit cards had to be slid through a funky machine and stamped. This left your personal information fairly insecure or at least at the mercy of the retail establishment’s security procedures. Now credit cards are so fancy you can simply walk by and tap them to pay for your bill. Would it surprise you to know that your credit card could be even more at risk today despite the jump in technology? A CBC News investigation is saying that a simple Smartphone app is capable of swiping your information right through your wallet. In about one second, they were able to use a Samsung Galaxy SIII and an app that shall remain nameless to do the deed. Information like the card number, expiration date and name was quickly stolen with a simple walk by.

That is alarming news to those of us that use PayPass or payWave from MasterCard and Visa collectively. Both appear to be susceptible to the app and the smartphone despite what is said by those with Visa or MasterCard. Both companies say that their products are safe and that you are not responsible for unauthorized purchases anyway. For me, the proof is in the doing. They were able to take a card’s information with a simple walk by, and then use it to purchase a Coke. That shows me that it is possible despite claims to the contrary.

This is a natural progression that one should expect to see when new technologies are being formed. If you come up with a new way to do things where paying and money is concerned, someone, somewhere is going to try to exploit it. It is the unfortunate way of the world. Once they have been caught a few times, then the technology will Continue reading Can Smartphones Steal Our Credit Card Information?