Brian Krebs has found a fascinating example of a card skimmer – essentially a machine that steals your credit card number – that masquerades as a real POS terminal. The skimmer fits over the ubiquitous Verifone POS reader and even reads key-presses. It is virtually indistinguishable from the actual POS card reader and can be slipped on and off without the retailer’s knowledge – or, more chillingly, with the retailer’s consent.
Should you be worried? Well sure. Your credit cards are approximately as safe in the wild as your cash. If you give your card to someone, the rules of decorum allow you to assume they won’t cheat you. That’s not always the case, and it doesn’t help that the thieves are getting so wily when it comes to card skimming.
Heck, thieves don’t even need skimmers. Sometimes they can simply install new software onto cash registers, giving them backdoor access to all transactions. Here’s hoping none of us get hit this heavy shopping season.