Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Safe to Say "It's Not Safe" as "Card Skimming" Runs Rampant

It's Not Safe! (or, More on Reverse Matriculation...Bring the POS Device Home)

It looks like every day, that the argument to avoid retail POS machines and shop at home using HomeATM's wedgie is uniquivocally...gaining more and more merit and traction.

Over the last couple of days/weeks I've blogged several times regarding card skimming at ATM's, gas stations and retail stores.  Crooks are using card skimmers for ATM's/Gas Pumps  or, in the case of retailers simply stealing, temporarliy substituting, and then reacquiring a replacement PIN Pads, complete with the consumers personal card data.  The same thing is happening abroad, with Chip and PIN...albeit much more commonly than here.  But it's early yet.  You watch.  This type of fraud will grow exponentially. 

Using one's own private HomeATM Wedgie in the private space of one calls home simply protects  one's "private" financial card information.   Can I share something private with you? "I never used the word private 3 times in one sentence before". (nor will I ever again).  Okay then...moving on...

So, use a wedgie and shop at home as it is more secure than using a machine supplied by a retailer.  And on the plus side, you'll not only protect your identity, you'll also save gas, time and sales tax, let alone finding joy in eliminating the hassle out of having to find a parking space.   I've said that for weeks now.  In fact, as recently as this past Tuesday, in the post titled: "Cost Plus World PIN Debit Breach Spreads to Arizona" I stated:

"Once again, I reiterate that using a HomeATM Wedgie for online purchases is eminently safer and more secure than using a POS machine provided by bricks and mortar retailers. Look for more breaches similiar to the Cost Plus World one in the near future..."

Well, it sure didn't take long...

With that said, here's more proof as to why you need a HomeATM Wedgie!

From "Gangs have developed tiny devices which can be secretly inserted inside the check-out card readers to unscramble codes and reveal the unwitting customers' pin numbers. The information is then used to their clone victims' cards in order to withdraw large sums of money abroad in countries where chip and pin technology is not in use.  Police say 30 shops – including several petrol stations - have already been targeted by the scam, which came to light after a suspected card fraud factory in Birmingham was raided on Monday.  Gangs steal the card readers, insert the device and return it to the shop before anyone realises that a crime has been committed". -

This is a story from today's "This Is"  Criminals have come up with a new fraud targeting the chip and PIN cards used by shop and petrol station customers across the country.

They are stealing card-reading machines, taking them apart and installing devices which record card numbers and PINs, before returning them to the store.  In some cases, detectives fear the installed devices are so hi-tech that they can transmit customers' card details to a mobile phone.  Cards are then cloned and used abroad in countries including the United States, Italy and Australia where cash machines do not have to read the unique microchip embedded in British cards.

Police have issued a warning about the fraud after arresting two men at a card-faking factory in Birmingham.  A raid on a house found stolen chip and PIN terminals, card account numbers, card readers and counterfeit magnetic stripe cards. The criminals targeted shops by threatening or bribing staff to give them the card machines or getting a job there themselves.

In some cases, they posed as engineers and took the machines away for an 'upgrade'. Experts warned last year that chip and PIN, which was launched in 2006 to cut card fraud, is not as secure as banks claim.

A Cambridge University team said it is simple to swap a doctored machine for one in a store. While the new system has marginally cut such crime in Britain, its introduction has not stopped criminals using fake cards overseas.

Card fraud abroad has increased by 77 per cent – and cost £207.6million – in the past year. Specialist officers from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit said the Birmingham factory had stolen card machines from 30 shops, supermarkets and petrol stations across the country.  The gang had been operating for weeks and thousands of cards had been read.  Detective Inspector John Folan, the unit's head, said: 'These arrests are a significant development in our fight against the organised criminal gangs responsible for this type of fraud.'

Sandra Quinn, of Apacs, which runs the payment clearing process for banks, said: 'Whereas fraudsters used to put pinhole cameras above the chip and PIN device to get hold of the number, they now manipulate the chip and PIN terminal to get that basic data. They are getting hold of the PIN from inside the reader. 'We have been aware that this has been going on because police have been getting reports that terminals are being stolen.'

Related Stories: 

Raid Turns up Chip and PIN Fraud  Financial Times
Toronto Man Charged in ATM Skimming Fraud  London Free Press
The Great BankCard Robbery!   Daily Star UK
UK Retailers Unprepared for TK (sic)  Maxx-Syle Hack  Times Online UK

Report: U.S., Overseas Retail E-Commerce Recession Resistant

A report put out today by Sanford Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsey claims the same disparity in growth between the U.S. and the rest of the world exists in e-commerce as exists in economic growth overall.

Online retail commerce will rise only 14.3% in the U.S. in 2008 (still not a bad showing, I would imagine), but 26.5% overseas, writes Lindsey. That adds up to 21.5% combined, and even if economic growth slows globally, Lindsey expects e-commerce numbers to prove relatively resilient.

In a worse case scenario, where a drop in real U.S. GDP of 1.5% to 1.9% occurs for three to four quarters, Lindsey thinks online retail e-commerce would still increase by 18% this year.

Bear in mind that the overseas markets use e-commerce less, points out Lindsey, so they’re able to grow faster — online makes up only 2.5% of all retail overseas, he says, versus 3.5% in the U.S., which should help overseas outperform U.S. e-commerce for the next 5 years, he predicts.

Other factors of growth include the low but rapidly growing online user base in other countries, and the shift of dollars from offline to online purchasing for furniture, appliances, event ticket sales, electronics and packaged goods, in particular. Lindsey thinks use of broadband wireless on cell phones, moreover, could “cannibalize” a lot of purchasing done via desktop computers, rather than expanding the pie.

In conclusions, Lindsey writes, “Despite expectations of a worsening macro-economic environment and evidence of deceleration of U.S. e-commerce in certain sectors such as personal computers, we continue to believe that the retail e-commerce sector has a very high degree of recession/downturn resistance.” One note of caution: the dollar, if it continues to strengthen, could somewhat crimp overseas online buying. 

Lindsey has an Outperform rating on (AMZN) and a price target of $97, and an Outperform rating on Ebay (EBAY), as well, with a price target of $38.  Today, Amazon is down 73 cents, or .8%, at $87.30, while eBay is off 28 cents, or 1%, at $26.33.

HomeATM's PIN Debit Offering Helps SMS Achieve 108% Gain

As Stated by SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc. (PINKSHEETS: SMKG) "Management is pleased to announce Prepaid card loading and payment processing volume continued at expected levels during the 2nd quarter. Card loads and payment processing for the 2nd quarter of 2008 was $458,688 compared to $272,937 in the same quarter of 2008, a 68% gain for the quarter. In the first six months of 2008, SMKG processed $889,583 compared to $317,177 for 2007 representing a 180.4% gain for the first half of the year and attaining the $1 million milestone in July of 2008. Operating losses were cut by 40% for the first half over the first 6 months of 2007, from $182,013 in 2007 to $109,169 in 2008.

We are very pleased with these achievements as it is a difficult segment to establish an online presence in the Money remittance Industry and to continuously grow our base of customers daily."

As the company continues to deliver prepaid card programs and rollout of the Pin Debit HomeATM offering through and sales, revenues/commissions from transactions continue to grow.

Max Barone, CEO  1-866-774-2555

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