Criminals, Too, Finding Vending Machines Fast & Easy

Vending machines, ATMs and gas pumps yet to be chip-enabled present prime opportunities to fraudsters looking for a quick score. 

Self-service retail. Consumers love the ease and convenience of being able to self-checkout. For those very reasons (and more), vending machines have a distinct appeal. The addition of Apple Pay to select vending machines offers consumers the added convenience of a new payment option. 

Consumers aren’t the only ones who appreciate ease of use when it comes to vending machines. Fraudsters do, too. Unmanned payment kiosks and terminals have long been a sweet spot for criminals. They are the perfect secluded locations to attach skimming devices or attempt more overt types of fraud, such as physically breaking into vending machines

With the introduction of EMV chip card technology, fraudsters have faced a new obstacle when it comes to stealing card information. In response to these more secure transactions, fraudsters have increasingly set their sights on more vulnerable targets. Vending machines, ATMs and gas pumps yet to be chip-enabled present prime opportunities. 

To combat this fraud, Visa and Mastercard have set EMV activation deadlines for fuel pumps and ATMs. The ATM liability shift is scheduled for October 2017. Also originally set for October 2017, Mastercard and Visa’s fuel dispenser liability shifts have since been moved back to 2020. While this allows merchants and financial institutions more time to prepare for the changeover, it continues to leave consumers at risk of fraud at unmanned points of transaction. 

Although there is little consumers can do to prevent fraudsters from physically breaking into vending machines, there are a few best practices for mitigating card fraud at unmanned kiosks and terminals.

  • Stay alert – When inserting their cards, consumers should look for signs of tampering. Oddly placed stickers and exposed wires can be indicators a skimming device has been attached.
  • Consider taking transactions inside – Gas stations may have chip-enabled technology inside, making transactions more secure.
  • Protect PINs – During transactions that require PIN entry, consumers should cover their hands while entering the numbers. This action can help prevent hidden cameras from picking up the valuable information.
  • Monitor statements – This tried-and-true strategy continues to prove effective. Consumers should watch their card statements closely for signs of fraud.