1/2/2018 New App fights back against credit card skimmers

This app levels the playing field when dealing with card crims

CNet reported in October last year that there has been an uptick in the number of ATM and payment terminal card skimmers. Most of these new skimmers are very small, hard to detect and work by capturing the magnetic stripe on your card. With this information, criminals are able to duplicate your card and then use it to make purchases against your account.

These small and inexpensive devices are well connected and pack a bluetooth transmitter that is used to wirelessly send captured card information to the attackers phone or laptop when they are within a few meters of the skimmer.

The thing is that the bluetooth chip on these and other cheap bluetooth enabled devices becomes an achilles heel. The transceiver is commonly a module called the HC-05 and is a popular choice for DIY projects as well as card skimmers but there is a catch. You cannot change the name of the transceiver and the default password is hard coded as 1234.

This makes it pretty easy to find card skimmers using this module without having to wrench at the front of an ATM or other card reader hoping to dislodge the skimmer.

Enter Skimmer Scanner from SparkFun Electronics founder and programmer Nathan Seidle.

This Android app (coming soon to iOS) uses the bluetooth feature on your smartphone to scan for the HC-05 chip and test to see if it is a skimmer. Once detected you know not to use that card reader and you can report this to the authorities.

The app is simple to use, is not asking too much in the way of access or permissions which is a big tick in my book and is a clever use of smartphone features.

So now, you can help fight against credit card fraud with your smartphone.

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