Dutch public transit user Paul Wiegmans noticed something strange when he tried to purchase a tram ticket from a machine in Amsterdam; the card slot looked a little out of the ordinary.
When he took a closer look, he discovered a so called “skimmer” had been placed over the original card reader. Skimmers are devices that read your credit card information at the same time the real reader does its work.
Skimmers have been used in restaurants and other locations for years, but this is one of the first I’ve ever seen where the unit was attached to a ticketing machine.
The skimmer reads the information stored on your card, and a small camera keeps an eye on the number pad, in order to capture your pin code.
Paul wrote a nice description of how the skimmer works (Dutch, translated version here). Even if you don’t understand what any of this means, the photos will give a pretty good indication just how smart and sleazy these thieves are.
The transit agencies are aware of the problem, and have asked their staff to keep an eye on the machines while they work on a long term solution.
If you use a credit card machine, always be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary, if in doubt, don’t swipe!
The only good news is that your credit card company will usually be quite accommodating if fraud is detected, especially since many of these stolen credit card numbers will be used abroad for “out of the ordinary” transactions.