According to the FTC “skimmers are illegal card readers attached to payment terminals. These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge. Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. You won’t know your information has been stolen until you get your statement or an overdraft notice.”
This has become more and more common. In fact, last year, we posted on how to recognize card skimmers at the pumps.
Now there’s an App for that.
Last year, students at the University of California San Diego and the University of Illinois worked in tandem with the Secret Service to create an app that helps detect card skimmers at gas pumps. Bluetana is an app that uses Bluetooth technology to detect card skimmers, but it’s currently only available to law enforcement officials and gas pump inspectors in certain states and will not be available to the public.
According to Krebs on security, “While several other Android-based apps designed to find pump skimmers are already available, the researchers said Bluetana was developed with an eye toward eliminating false-positives that some of these other apps can fail to distinguish.”
“Bluetooth technology used in these skimmers is also used for legitimate products commonly seen at and near gas stations such as speed-limit signs, weather sensors, and fleet tracking systems,” said Nishant Bhaskar, UC San Diego Ph.D. student and principal author of the study. “These products can be mistaken for skimmers by existing detection apps.”
Researchers say Bluetana works better than similar smartphone apps due to its accuracy. From October 2018 to June 2019 in Arizona, Bluetana falsely detected the presence of a skimmer just 6% of the time. Other apps posted a higher error rate.
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