OFFICIALS have called for changes after hidden devices were discovered at retailers across America.
The devices, which help initiate a theft process known as “skimming,” target millions of US citizens.
Skimming occurs when devices are placed on transaction devices to steal financial information, according to the FBI.
These devices have often been seen at ATMs or gas pumps, and criminals copy credit card information.
They then use it to create fake cards and drain accounts.
However, government officials like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) have now called for “tighter federal security requirements” for benefit cards issued to low-income families because they, too, have been exposed to skimming devices, according to NBC News.
Many Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants have been victims of electronic theft when using the cards to purchase groceries.
Users typically get money for groceries on the program’s electronic benefit transfer cards, but skimming devices have been found on a staggering number of cards in recent months.
To combat skimming, contactless payments and embedded microchips have historically been adopted for much of the consumer credit and debit card industry.
Unfortunately, according to the US Department of Agriculture, state SNAP authorities do not issue EBT cards (Electronic Benefit Transfer) with chips, only the magnetic strips that have been used up to now.
Wyden told NBC News that this lack of additional security on the EBT cards was detrimental.
“Criminals have exploited a vulnerability in benefit cards to literally steal food from families in need,” he explained.
“This is a textbook case of government failure to help people who need it most.”
Wyden is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and wrote a letter to the USDA stating that the EBT card information stored on the magnetic strips dates from the 1960s.
Therefore, the information is easily vulnerable to thieves.
“Government-issued SNAP cards are particularly vulnerable to fraud because states have yet to implement industry-standard safeguards,” the letter reads.
The Oregon senator also added that financial services companies like Mastercard are even phasing out magnetic strips on their cards entirely.
So far, several states have provided information showing that approximately $1 million in benefits were stolen from members of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.
“The government can do much better here. It’s clear that SNAP users should get the same fraud protection that banks offer their customers,” noted Wyden.
Back in December, the US government passed the Omnibus Spending Act, which gave states the ability to return benefits siphoned off by SNAP users.
Although there is hope for the future.
The USDA told NBC News that they are in the process of developing a program that will allow SNAP members to pay with their phones.
Ashley Burnside, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, said the burden needs to be shifted as low-income families bear “the brunt of the cost” of skimming.
For more on scams and scams, see The US Sun’s coverage of an urgent police alert after scammers staged a sneaky trick at self-checkouts to steal money.
The US Sun also has the story of how shoppers were warned about a fake “Free Air Fryer” scam.
https://www.the-sun.com/money/7648588/hidden-devices-targeting-millions-checkout-outrage/ Hidden devices targeting millions of Americans at checkout spark outrage