Are Card Machines Safe From Fraud?

Here in the UK, it’s believed that there are nearly 96.3 million debit cards in circulation, and an incredible 94% of them are contactless. By 2025, that figure is expected to be more than 100 million, and that’s only the debit cards. There are roughly 60 million credit cards in British pockets, and plastic has outnumbered cash transactions since 2018. We’re a nation of card users, and card machines are an everyday part of life.

Making sure the transactions are secure has been a priority for the manufacturers since day one. Card machines process multiple payments daily, so customers and retailers alike have to trust them. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to hack a card machine, we’d like to put your mind at rest.

card machine

Card Machine Safety

While some people were understandably wary when card machines were first introduced, they’re generally safe to use and one of the less likely ways to become a fraud victim. Reputable providers like SumUp and Square supply machines with built-in security settings, and they create records of all transactions. You’ll have a complete audit trail of all your payments if any problems arise. Modern card machines have benefitted from years of technological developments, and hacking them is difficult. 

That doesn’t mean card machines are entirely safe however, and there have been several high-profile criminal cases where hackers took advantage of them. For example, there was a famous case where a fast food chain had 300 terminals infected with malware designed to steal credit card information. Additionally, at the 2012 Black Hat security conference, researchers demonstrated that terminals using Linux-based software had a loophole which made them vulnerable. These issues have since been resolved as security technology keeps up to date, but criminals can be creative and staying ahead of them is essential. 

Therefore, while card machines are generally safe to use, there are steps you can take to protect your business and customers from potential fraud:

  • Change the default settings on new Point-of-Sale systems
  • Ensure all your Wifi connections are private and secure 
  • Keep your Point-of-Sale systems up to date
  • Use complex passwords and change them regularly 
  • Use encryption to protect your endpoint data
  • Restrict users from accessing the Internet or other apps on your devices

It’s unlikely for a card machine to be hacked, but if you follow these steps, you’ll reduce the risk even further.

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Other Types Of Fraud

Whilst we’re on the subject, let’s take a moment to consider other areas where your business could be at risk from fraud. Card machines are complicated devices that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so criminals tend to struggle with them, but there are other methods they can use. 

For example, keep an eye open for forged notes or coins if you take cash payments. According to the Bank Of England, forgeries make up less than 0.01% of the money in circulation, but they are still out there. Some are low quality and easy to spot, but every once in a while, you may encounter a note that’s indistinguishable from a real one. And while it’s not quite the same, watch out for anyone using foreign currency leftover from a holiday. It’s more likely to be a mistake than a genuine attempt at fraud, but it is still annoying. 

You also may be targeted for a Phishing scam. We’ve all heard stories of people receiving emails claiming to be from Microsoft, TV Licensing or some other legitimate business, only for it to not be genuine. They’re not limited to personal accounts, and scammers will target businesses too. Always check where an email or phone call is coming from, and try to avoid making a payment if you didn’t initiate contact. 

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Similarly, watch out for Malware or Spyware when using the Internet. It’s best to use separate devices for business and personal use, especially if you share them with friends or family. In other words, don’t use the same desktop PC to run the business that you use for gaming on the weekends. 

Finally, don’t overlook any sensitive data that’s kept on paper. Believe it or not, thieves are still willing to trawl through rubbish bins in search of bank details. If you’ve got any private or sensitive documents to dispose of, do it securely. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re concerned about fraud, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk. As we mentioned above however, it’s unlikely that your card machine will be a weak point. They’re not new devices anymore, and there have been years of technological development to improve their security. The major card providers all have experts dedicated to making their systems as safe as possible, and they have lots of knowledge to draw upon.

A good card machine can be a real benefit to your business. If you’re interested in finding the best one for you, here at Business Quotes, we can help. Click on the banner below, and let’s see what we can find.

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Categories: Advice, Card Machines, General

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