July 3, 2014 1:23 pm

Pin pad theft targets four Saskatoon businesses

Watch above: debit card skimming hits some Saskatoon residents

SASKATOON – Police have issued an advisory regarding pin pad thefts in Saskatoon, something one local man experienced first-hand.

Corey Waldner was checking his bank account balance online and found himself short of cash.

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“I was checking because it was the end of the month, checking my bank balance, making sure all the bills are coming out and I just happened to glance at the actual summary and the number that was coming up for my balance did not make sense for the bills that were coming out,” Waldner told Global News.

Waldner was right to be concerned.

“I opened up my actual full statement on my phone and there were two ATM withdrawals from a place in Pennsylvania, which I have never been to.”

Waldner quickly informed his bank and was told that others had also been victimized by card skimming.

It’s a scam police are warning others about, saying pin pads at two restaurants and two gas stations in the city have been compromised or stolen in recent weeks.

“There was a pin pad terminal that was compromised at one of our food courts at one of our shopping malls and we learned that the data that had been collected in Saskatoon resulted in transactions in Pennsylvania, California and Chicago,” said Saskatoon police Det. Sgt. Dave Kozicki.

Transactions have also been recorded in New York and New Jersey.

Police say the thieves are getting more sophisticated.

“It’s usually travelling criminals from inside Canada, organized crime that are traveling through cities,” said Saskatoon police Staff Sgt. Keith Briant.

“They set up their little scam. They sit there and gather the information and with that information, they send it off to other scammers in other countries.”

When a card is skimmed, the electronic data it contains is copied. Often, pin pads on point of trade devices are tampered with or switched out and many vendors are unaware their debit and credit machines have been compromised.

Police say there are preventative measures businesses can take.

“What we would like to recommend is that the merchants mark their pin pad terminals with something that clearly identifies it as their pin pad because the swap takes seconds and it’s hard to catch them in the act,” said Kozicki.

Other steps include securing the device or placing it under a counter.

Police are also warning businesses and customers to watch for suspicious activity including people loitering in the area with a computer as there have been instances where data has been gathered this way.

As for consumers, police say chip card technology is still the most secure safeguard against pin pan theft as it is the magnetic stripe that tends to be compromised.

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