Freshtown takes steps to deter card hacking


By Joe Moskowitz
Margaretville’s Freshtown Supermarket has taken steps aimed at ending the credit- and debit- card hacking that has plagued the area in recent weeks.
Freshtown store manager Robert Griffiths has confirmed that the store has installed new card swiping, or Point of Sale (POS) machines. According to federal investigators, card security breaches often begin at that point.
Because of the number of card swipe machines it operates, and volume of business it does, Fresh­town has been considered one of the possible targets of the hacker or hackers.
 Local bank customers who have been victimized are told to call the New York State Police. In theory, they are in charge of the investigation, but because of the likely sophistication of the hackers and the fact that purchases are being made in other states, two federal agencies typically conduct such probes.
One of them is the FBI and the other is the U.S. Secret Service. The Secret Service is more commonly known for protecting the President of the United States, but it was originally created in the 1850s to stop counterfeiters and, to this day, the Secret Service, which is part of the U.S. Treasury Department, investigates crimes involving U.S. currency and other financial matters.

Source a mystery
The source of the area problem remains a mystery, but in February, the FBI warned that there would likely be an increase in credit and debit card hacking.
According to the FBI, hacking sometimes can be done by obtaining high-tech ‘malware’ a type of computer virus, and creating fake cards with extremely low Xacto knives and glue.
The malware infects Windows-based computers at the point of sale. When a card is swiped, the information, while being sent to the card-processing center, is also sent to a third party, the thief.

Cashing in
That information may then be sold to a credit-card shaver. Shavers earn their name because that is just what they do. They use a knife or blade and literally shave the name and numbers off a stolen, or expired prepaid- or bank-issued card. They then glue new numbers and letters on the card. The magnetic strip is then scraped off to force a store clerk to manually process the card. Clerks in busy stores often don’t pay attention to the irregular lettering and numbers, nor do they ask for identification.
Is this what is happening locally? The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating, but not talking, and the Secret Service is being secretive.
Is there anything that can be done to prevent this from happening? According to the FBI and some private security firms, doing what Freshtown did and replacing possibly infected terminals helps. One grocery store chain in a portion of Washington State that is having the same kind of problem that is being experienced here has temporarily gone to an old dial up system for secure card processing.
Cardholders are urged to check their accounts frequently, and to immediately report any unusual activity to the bank.