Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Safety Tip When Paying with Plastic

Whenever you eat out at a restaurant or are using a plastic debit or credit card to pay for something, NEVER let the physical card out of your sight. Never let a server or business employee take your debit or credit card to another location out of your view, whether it’s the front of the restaurant where a cash register is located or to an undisclosed location in the back where they say they need to process it. The reason for this is simple: credit card “skimmers” cost less than $20 to purchase online at Amazon or via other retailers, and unscrupulous folks can scan your card in a matter of seconds when you’re not looking. In some cases, your debit or credit card may not be used immediately by someone else to rob you of funds, but rather is sold to a broker on the dark web where it’s then sold and traded to others for future use.

Paying with Plastic PSA by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Paying with Plastic PSA" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I’m more aware of the threat posed by credit card skimmers because I attended the Oklahoma Council of Educational Technology Leaders (OCETL) CTO Forum on 26 April 2019 in Moore, Oklahoma. We had a number of excellent speakers during this 1 day event, but the most hair-raising and attention getting presentations of the day were shared by Jonathan Kimmitt. Jonathan serves as the Chief Information Security Officer at the University of Tulsa, and has over 18 years of experience working as an information technology professional.

Just like using a password manager or turning on multi-factor authentication requires a MAJOR change in behavior and isn’t easy for any of us to start doing, making a conscious effort to NEVER let anyone else take your credit card out of your eyesight can be challenging. Many of us are so used to handing a server our credit card without thinking twice about it, that pausing to say, “I need you to run this card here at our table or come with you when you run it” requires both changing our THINKING and changing our BEHAVIOR. Yet this is exactly what we need to do. See the September 2005 article, “Skimming 101: How to spot it, avoid it, deal with it,” for more details on why you should always maintain eye contact with a credit card you’re using at a physical business location. The need to maintain eye contact with our debit and credit cards isn’t new (relatively speaking) the but importance of making this a habit IS bigger today, thanks to the prevalence of credit card skimmers as well as cybercrime more generally.

I shared all my notes from the April 2019 Oklahoma CTO Forum via Twitter, and collected them in a single “Twitter Moment.” If you are responsible for information security / network security / digital security in your organization, I highly recommend reading through this entire series of tweets. As more commerce and daily life becomes digitized, the prevalence of cybercrime will only increase. It pays to be informed and take proactive steps to protect yourself, your family, and your organization from others want to take your money and property.