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Monthly Archives: February 2007

A few days ago my Abbey debit card was declined at a local shop. A couple of days later I phoned up Abbey to find out what was happening. They told me my card had been charged £255 in UAE and during the following days, 2 more transactions were attempted, one in Japan and one in Canada. My card had been cloned three times. Thankfully, Abbey spotted this and flagged my account up, and also refunded the £255 taken by the crooks.

Yesterday’s Edinburgh Evening News reported that a BP petrol station in Bruntsfield was home to a card-cloning gang last month. I use this petrol station :-(. Not any more.

I’m grateful to Abbey for refunding my account, no questions asked. The scam goes like this:

  1. Your card is scanned by the chip’n’pin machine, which has a card skimmer device attached
  2. Someone watches you type in your PIN, either by hidden camera, over your shoulder, or by the shop assistant himself
  3. Your card is reproduced later and used in foreign countries to security put in place by UK banks

One commenter on the Edinburgh Evening News article disagrees with the last point saying:

The version of Chip and PIN that is used in the UK is inferior to that used in other parts of Europe. There is no need to watch or film the PIN being entered as there are sophisticated skimming devices that can actually reveal it to the criminal. The banks in the Uk opted for an inferior technology because it was cheaper. Also, the fact that they introduced a PIN technology gives them the ability to claim it was the customers fault that a crime against them occurred, as they must be responsible for someone else obtaining their PIN. Dishonesty isn’t exclusive to “criminals”.

I’m not sure if this is true but if it is then what hope does one have to protect one’s PIN. There’s no point in covering the chip’n’pin keypad with your hand as you type in your PIN. Cash, from the bank, is the only alternative. Or do all of your shopping online, though I have my doubts about this too now.

A quick search on Google News for “chip and pin” reveals plenty of stories about fraud, academics hacking cards and more stories about card cloning at BP petrol stations around the country.

With all this in mind, I warn you to be vigilant and non-trusting when it comes to using your card. When shopping in places you don’t usually shop, use cash if you can.