Coronavirus: Credit card thieves target online shoppers with digital skimmers during shelter-in-place order

Monday, April 13, 2020
Credit card thieves target online shoppers with digital skimmers during shelter-in-place order
People know to look for credit card skimmers on gas station pumps and ATMs -- but now, the skimmers lurk on the internet for users shopping online during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- I have been warning for years about credit card skimming. That's where thieves secretly steal your credit card information when you swipe or insert your card at a bank, store or gas station. Thieves install reading devices on top of legit readers, and your information is "skimmed."

Online security expert, Robert Siciliano, spoke with ABC's Nightline about it.

"Unfortunately when it comes to stealing credit card information," he said, "it is as easy as swiping your card on any device."

Now that we are not shopping in physical locations, you would figure the skimming thieves would be out of business. But that is not how things are working out; criminals are taking credit card skimming online.

Steve Ginty is with the security firm, RiskIQ.

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"These actors are putting malicious code on vulnerable e-commerce websites," he tells me, "at the time you check out from your online shopping experience, your credit card information is getting skimmed from the website."

When shopping online there comes a moment when you are giving up your personal information, but it is not yet encrypted. It is right before you pay.

"When you fill out your credit card information on a shopping cart form and you type that information at the time of check out," Ginty explains, "the actors are able to collect that type of information because they are collecting it before it is encrypted."

So how do you protect yourself? Don't put in that information! Instead use a third-party payment services like PayPal or Apple Pay. Why does that work? Well, the information is encrypted during the entire transaction. Criminals lose their moment of opportunity.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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