The Australian Bankers Association (ABA), the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) are advising merchants to secure their EFTPOS terminals to prevent criminals installing skimming devices to defraud customers.
The organisations are working together and a National Law Enforcement Task Force has been formed, in a collaborative nationwide effort, to help protect consumers and to encourage merchants to take extra security precautions with their EFTPOS terminals.
The ACC warned merchants that a large and sophisticated international organised crime network was responsible for an increase in credit and debit card skimming activity in Australia, and the network is targeting EFTPOS terminals at retail outlets by installing skimming devices to obtain customer card information and personal identification numbers (PINs).
ACC acting chief executive officer, Michael Outram, said skimmed information from cards was being used by this global syndicate to create counterfeit cards, which were then used to withdraw cash from ATMs in Australia and overseas.
“While the dollar value can’t be determined at this stage, the ACC, ABA and ARA believe that criminals may try again to target retail outlets and use EFTPOS terminals to commit skimming crimes, so this is why we are warning retailers about this criminal activity,” said Outram.
“NSW, WA, Vic and Qld police have to date arrested 20 people in relation to alleged EFTPOS skimming incidents. This has been the result of a successful law enforcement partnership to address the issue nationally.
“We are urging all retailers, whether large or small, to be alert to this new threat and take appropriate measures to secure their EFTPOS terminals to help prevent this criminal activity,” he said.
Steven Münchenberg, chief executive of the ABA, said that bank customers can be assured they are not liable for unauthorised transactions on their accounts if they become victims of proven skimming crimes.
“If we can work together to prevent skimming, criminals will find it much harder to commit crimes which cause great inconvenience to customers, retailers and banks. Fraud protection guidelines have been developed to support retailers secure their terminals. The guidelines suggest retailers check daily for any evidence the EFTPOS terminal may have been tampered with and to be wary of unauthorised individuals supposedly fixing or even connecting a terminal.
“The ACC has advised banks that in some circumstances the criminals are using cameras to film consumers as they type their PIN into the EFTPOS keypad. We would advise all consumers to shield their PIN when using an EFTPOS or ATM terminal, by using their free hand to cover the key-pad while entering their PIN.”
Banks and card schemes are also taking steps to increase the security of cards and terminals. Banks which issue MasterCard and Visa cards have started to embed micro chips within their cards. These store information in a secure form making it harder for criminals to create counterfeit cards.
This strategy is in line with a national initiative to upgrade merchants’ terminals to accept chip cards. These newer terminals comply with the latest data security standards.
“It’s important to think of an EFTPOS terminal like a cash register and protect it accordingly,” said deputy executive director of the ARA, Jennifer Cromarty. “Vigilance against terminal theft and tampering is necessary.”
The Fraud Protection Guidelines for merchants have been developed by the members of the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) which includes banks, building societies, credit unions and large merchants.