Science & Tech

What is card cloning and how do you avoid being a victim?

CLONING is a type of credit card theft in which the thief makes a digital copy of the credit card information using a concealed or disguised electronic scanner. Security improvements—such as the use of chip cards—have helped disrupt this type of theft.

Also known as card skimming, cloning is very common in Zimbabwe and much of the rest of the world.

Thieves basically make a replica of your card, which gives them access to everything in your account including your credit card limit.

How do criminals do card cloning?

Criminals will swipe your card through a machine known as a card skimming device to copy all of your credit card / bank customer details, which are stored on the magnetic strip (brown/black strip on the back of your card). Your details can then be placed on a new blank card, making it an exact replica of your card.

That’s pretty scary if you think about it.

So what can you as customer/ person do to prevent it?

Be Aware! When you are making any purchase with your card, never let your card out of your sight.

If there should be a problem with the machine and they need to fetch another one – hold on to your card. DO NOT let them walk away with your card.

But remember, card cloning does not just happen when you are making a purchase, more than often it happens right under our noses when we are using the ATM.

There is more than one way which they can use to clone your card.

They can either distract you while you are busy doing a transaction, in order to get hold of your card or by placing a card skimming device over the card slot of the ATM.

This way they can copy your card information once the card is inserted into the ATM. A small camera that’s hidden is used to capture your PIN number.

Here are a few safety tips that can help you from becoming a victim of card skimming (either at the ATM or when making a purchase).

1. Cover your transaction.

Use your body to block the keyboard from view. Also always cover your one hand with the other one while you are typing in your PIN.

2. Be Observant.

Always be aware of your surroundings. If you feel unsafe or notice suspicious looking people hanging around the ATM – leave immediately.

3. Never use an ATM that looks tampered with or damaged.

Use ATM’s you are familiar with.

4. Do not use ATM’s late at night or in secluded areas.

5. Monitor your bank statements.

This way you will be able to pick up any unusual transactions.

6. Trust your instinct.

If you have any suspicions or bad feeling when making a purchase – try & use cash instead.

7. Do not accept assistance.

Do not let anyone interfere with your transaction. Sometimes fraudsters will pose as bank officials. – Zimbabwe Voice/Online

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