Scams are Everywhere

Avoid scams- here’s one that was recently brought to our attention.

A customer was making a large purchase and told the merchant that because it was a debit card, his bank gave him a pre-auth code for the merchant to use to Force the transaction through.  Well, since a force assumes the code is valid it never actually contacts the issuing bank for approval and prints out normal looking receipt.  The customer signs the receipt and walks off with and expensive piece of merchandise.

Here’s the rub; the card was stolen.  Because it was forced, it settled and later the actual card holder contested the charge on their bill.

Lesson here: Never ever accept a manual auth code for a force transaction from a customer.  If you have doubts, contact Frontline Processing and we’ll check it out for you.

By now we should know not to respond to an email requesting personal data or credit card information.  Paypal and eBay do not loose your account information and don’t need you to re-enter it.  However, scammers make web sites look very authentic and capture personal data from unsuspecting victims.  This is known as phishing.

Enter the Smishing scam.
Similar to phishing, smishing uses cell phone text messages to deliver the “bait” to get you to divulge your personal information. The “hook” (the method used to actually “capture” your information) in the text message may be a web site URL, however it has become more common to see a phone number that connects to automated voice response system.

The smishing message usually contains something that wants your “immediate attention”, some examples include “We’re confirming you’ve signed up for our dating service. You will be charged $2/day unless you cancel your order on this URL: www.?????.com.”; “(Name of popular online bank) is confirming that you have purchase a $1500 computer from (name of popular computer company). Visit www.?????.com if you did not make this online purchase”; and “(Name of a financial institution): Your account has been suspended. Call ###### immediately to reactivate”. The “hook” will be a legitimate looking web site that asks you to “confirm” (enter) your personal financial information, such as your credit/debit card number, CVV code (on the back of your credit card), your ATM card PIN, SSN, email address, and other personal information. If the “hook” is a phone number, it normally directs to a legitimate sounding automated voice response system, similar to the voice response systems used by many financial institutions, which will ask for the same personal information.

This is an example of a (complete) smishing message in current circulation: “Notice – this is an automated message from (a local credit union), your ATM card has been suspended. To reactivate call urgent at 866-###-####.”
In many cases, the smishing message will show that it came from “5000” instead of displaying an actual phone number. This usually indicates the SMS message was sent via email to the cell phone, and not sent from another cell phone.

This information is then used to create duplicate credit/debit/ATM cards. There are documented cases where information entered on a fraudulent web site (used in a phishing, smishing, or vishing attack) was used to create a credit or debit card that was used halfway around the world, within 30 minutes.

Email Virus attachments
Recently we’ve seen a surge in email attachment viruses. These prey on businesses that have a lot of shipments and transactions.  Often it will be a notification from UPS, Fed-EX or some other shipper.   It claims a package delivery failure and asks the recipient to open the attached waybill, which is a virus payload.  Another variant claims an ACH (electronic funds transfer) failed and offers details in an attached file.

If you receive a suspicious email attachment, do NOT open it.  The Automated Clearing House (ACH) never emails transfer details to users.  Shippers do not include attached files with their emails.

Once infected, a common variant of this virus will display “Your computer is infected! Windows has detected spyware infection.” or a similar message attempting to trick the user into believing that it is a genuine antivirus program.  A fooled user is lured into giving up their credit card number and the infection messages subside.  However, the virus remains dormant awaiting the author’s command to use your computer for malicious purposes.  If you suspect your computer is infected, seek IT assistance to remove it immediately.

Mac users have enjoyed virtually virus free computing for years.  However, virus authors are starting to see them as open targets as they often don’t use any form of virus protection.

As a merchant, an infected computer could potentially harvest credit card numbers from devices on your network.  The consequences of this are dire.   This is the reason the Payment Card Industry (PCI) council was formed, to assist merchants become safe custodians of cardholder data.There is no reason to not use a virus scanner.  The are several excellent FREE versions available, including Microsoft’s Security Essentials and free products from AVG and Avast.It is more common for businesses to offer free WiFi to their patrons.  If you use a wireless network, make sure it is secure.  Public access to WiFi should not share the same network segment as your business.  If you are unsure, we highly recommend seeking professional IT assistance to secure your business network.


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