Many businesses use POS (Point of Sale) devices to manage checkout and payment for customers. The devices consist of physical card readers, and are common in most retail environments as diverse as gas stations and grocery stores. A relatively new practice known as ‘skimming’ has emerged in which criminals use POS devices to commit fraud against an organization's customers.
Skimming consists of introducing an extra set of circuits into a POS device. Once the additional circuits are in place, all debit and credit card information legitimately harvested by the machine is surreptitiously transferred to the criminals who use it to steal and commit identify theft. Sometimes the stolen information is stored in the POS device and physically picked up at a later date.
A challenge for businesses is that when skimming occurs, the business rarely becomes aware of it on its own as the extra circuits are inserted into the interior of the POS device and are not readily apparent to the eye. Therefore, most businesses only learn of the problem when they are contacted by law enforcement or worse, when they see themselves on the news because irate consumers have reported problems occurring with their credit cards at a given location.
A qualified IT consultant can work with businesses to implement monitoring processes that can help to make it obvious sooner when hardware has been compromised. Alternatively, other technologies entirely can be adopted to make mobile payments a reality without the need for the kind of POS devices that are now being targeted.