Several debit-machine thefts and swaps have occurred recently at Abbotsford businesses, including one that resulted in the thief refunding himself $8,200.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird said investigators have recently noted a rise in these thefts, which involve the culprit entering a business, stealing a debit machine, and replacing it with a different stolen debit machine.
They then make a purchase transaction using a stolen debit/credit card, and attempt to do a refund back onto a legitimate debit card, she said.
“In many cases, businesses do not have the proper security in place to stop the transaction and block the refund,” Bird said.
Among the businesses hit have been restaurants, a spa and a dental office.
In another case, the suspect replaced a debit machine at an Abbotsford business with one that had been stolen from a Langley restaurant.
He attempted to issue himself a $400 refund, but the transaction would not go through because the debit machine had a password that was not generic.
Bird said changing the managerial code and password regularly is one thing that businesses can do to protect themselves.
She said businesses can also watch out for customers who hold the machine in their hands for an unusually long time, who seem to punch in a lot of numbers while using the machine or who use distraction techniques (one person talks to them while the other is using the machine and potentially doing a swap).
Bird said other measures that businesses can do to protect themselves include tethering the machine and not letting it out of their sight; writing down the serial number, adding a security seal on the seam and checking the integrity of the serial number at the beginning and end of each day; and not allowing the purchaser to key in the card number themselves.
She also said the name on the credit card should be verified, and, if a refund is being processed, the full card number should be confirmed.
Anyone with information about the debit-machine thefts is asked to call the Abbotsford Police Department’s crime reduction unit tip line at 604-864-4744 or the anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-800-222-8477 or solvecrime.ca.