Last updated on January 5th, 2021
As more consumers rely on online shopping during the COVID-19 quarantine, credit card skimmers are taking advantage. Credit card skimming has long been an issue, both online and at popular self-service spots like gas stations and ATMs. However, certain circumstances – such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday – present increased opportunities for online credit card theft.
The coronavirus pandemic offers a similar landscape, with more consumers purchasing essentials, ordering delivery, and supporting small businesses from the safety of the Internet. Not to mention, the virus also has both shoppers and businesses distracted.
Right now, many are focused on adjusting to remote work or a heavily reduced workforce. Yet credit card skimmer detection is more important than ever to ensure businesses and their customers’ wallets can ride out this pandemic.
How Do Credit Card Skimmers Work Online?
Traditional credit card skimming requires a device. When placed over a regular credit card scanner, it scans the card for information when a customer swipes. Digital skimming, on the other hand, comes in the form of malware. Credit card thieves create a malicious code, which they then embed into the checkout page of an online store.
Selling credit card information online allows identity thefts to profit from their theft without the risk of fraudulent charges being traced back to a physical address.
This malware saves the information customers input during the checkout process. In order for this to work, these hackers must take advantage of gaps in the business’s security. This allows them to remain undetected while they embed the code and syphon off credit card info.
Security firms like RiskIQ and Malwarebytes perform credit card skimmer detection across the internet. In fact, both were responsible for uncovering a few recent attacks; Malwarebytes detected a skimmer on Tupperware’s website, while RiskIQ spotted malware affecting NutriBullet. It’s RiskIQ that has reported a 20% increase in skimming since the pandemic began.
How to Avoid Credit Card Skimmers on the Internet
Once spotted, security companies report the credit card skimmer to the business affected. It’s the business’s responsibility to then remove the malware and close the gaps that allowed for the attack in the first place. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has made it more difficult to contact these companies, let alone fix these problems.
Related article: Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams and Credit Card Fraud
That’s why it’s important for customers to understand the threat and stay vigilant. While it’s impossible to identify a skimmer while online shopping, there are ways to limit the risks. If you’re wondering how to protect yourself from remote credit card skimming, consider taking these precautions:
- Stick to big-box stores, which are more likely to have dedicated security teams
- Use third-party processors like PayPal whenever possible
- Make sure the business’s site is well-maintained and the copyright is recent (you can check this at the bottom of the webpage)
- Read through your credit card statements so you can catch any unauthorized use