Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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- BitLicense Will Allow Bitcoin Spying in New York - October 22, 2014
- Australians are Fighting Data Retention Laws - October 22, 2014
Online scammers are lurking around every corner of the internet, just waiting to snag a few bits of data that can lead them to a jackpot. Most people believe that they are not in danger of being stolen from because they don’t think of themselves as big targets. True, most people aren’t, but this confidence is what attracts thieves to go after ordinary folks. Online thieves would have a hard time trying to crack the accounts of business or wealthy persons because these are more highly secured than the average working man’s savings. But there are a ton more ordinary bank accounts than there are rich people or profiting companies. Online thieves go for the average Joe. The only way to stop them is to be careful how your money is accessed and to setup VPN services to protect your data.
How Scammers Walked Away with $1800 Clean
In less than three hours, online scammers took $1800 from a New York City working woman. Being a New Yorker, she has always been very careful about using ATMs at night and walking around on pay day. She always kept close watch on her bank accounts and took care where she used her cards. But these scammers were able to clean out her savings account without her or her bank noticing that anything was wrong. She was aware about bank account hacking and was always careful about where she logged on. But it happened anyway, through her debit card.
Many people use debit cards these days because in many cases it’s safer than walking around with cash. For others it is simply more convenient than having to withdraw money every time you need lunch or toiletries. It has been marketed in the past as a safe alternative to cash, but now we need a safer alternative to debit cards. This is because it turns out that debit cards are easier to steal than cash. That is, if you take into account the risks of getting caught. Thieves have moved the game online because they are able to get at people’s money without being noticed. That is almost impossible when trying to take cash from a person’s wallet or purse. It is also many times easier to take cash through online schemes because the perpetrators can take it at their leisure.
What happened to this New York lady is proof of that. She was very vigilant about her finances. Her bank account was set up to inform her of subway pass purchases and she used an online service to help her budget her money. In a way, this helped her find out what happened shortly after it happened. The service sent her a warning that she had spent almost $500 on coffee, and this was just four days into the monthly budget. She immediately checked her banking statement and found that small amounts were successively charged to her debit card.
Most people would not notice anything was wrong until they received their monthly bank statement. Scammers were able to skim her debit card number, probably from a subway vending machine or an unsecured local merchant. In the span of just two and a half hours, they took a total of $1800 from her bank account. The bulk of the charges that reflected on her bank account were marked as Starbucks Card Reloads. She alerted her banks fraud agent immediately and even the agent was surprised. She then called the Starbucks hotline and figured out exactly how it happened. Starbucks uses a system called “Auto Reload”. This allows anyone with a registered Starbucks card to automatically reload the card without speaking to customer service or verifying their ID. Credit-card and Paypal numbers can be changed out quickly without raising suspicion on this system. The reloads are easy to do online, and the charges appear as if they were directly added via the toll-free number where a customer service agent would normally verify fund transactions. Because the scammers loaded different cards and loaded them with small $30 to $60 credits, the usual red flags for large purchases weren’t triggered. The transactions were done three minutes apart, using a simple macro.
Setup VPN Services and Use Safer Payment Systems
It is very easy to setup VPN services these days. One example is the ExpressVPN software that can be set up to secure your online activities in minutes. They are a great way to stay safe online by preventing hackers from following you when you log into your bank account. Setup VPN services to get data privacy through VPN tunneling technology. Setup VPN services to have your traffic rerouted through a secure VPN server. Setup VPN services to hide your real IP address so no one can track you to where you log in to your bank and the websites where you make purchases. And setup VPN services to keep your computer or other device safer from malware and virus attacks.
Then consider using safer payment methods than debit cards. Debit card fraud is very common and happens because debit card records are not kept safe. Most small stores do not have the resources to properly secure their systems. Debit card numbers are also often stolen through fake card readers on machines that have been tampered with. Unless you only use your debit card at major store outlets, you are at great risk. And this doesn’t mean that big brands don’t get hacked. Ironically, cash is one of the safest ways to transact these days. You can also use secure and anonymous online payment services, provided you always stay secure and private first. Setup VPN services before you use online forms of payment.