Shred360 Blog

ATM Machine

Be careful when using your debit or credit card at an ATM or a gas pump. These machines are increasingly being fitted with so-called skimmers—devices that thieves install to steal your card information. A recent victim of debit/ATM card theft myself, this information comes along at a very opportune time.

The problem has been getting worse. In April, the FICO Card Alert Service, which detects credit card fraud early, reported that in 2015, the use of skimmers in ATMs was the highest ever recorded, up 546 percent from one year earlier. A 2016 report by Verizon Enterprises found that ATMs are a particular problem, accounting for 94 percent of security breaches, compared to gas pumps, which represent just 5 percent.

“We are in an arms race, unfortunately, with the bad guys,” says Owen Wild, director of marketing for security solutions at NCR Corporation, which makes payment card equipment and software. He says skimmer fraud has increased by triple digits over just the last 18 months.

Thieves don’t rely solely on using a skimmer. They are usually deployed along with other devices such as a tiny camera that records the PIN you type in on the ATM keyboard. A thief may also place a PIN pad “overlay” that fits on top of the original PIN pad and records the code you type in to the ATM to access your account.

Last month, NCR issued a security alert warning about the use of so-called deep-insert skimmers. This kind of skimmer is placed inside the ATM, behind the shutter of a motorized card reader. It is completely hidden from the consumer. Thieves can either return to the ATM to get the device that has recorded your personal data or, if the skimmer is more sophisticated, it can transmit the data wirelessly to the thief. Thieves then use the information to create duplicate cards and make cash withdrawals or purchases.

“This problem will not go away until the magnetic stripe on the back of the card is eliminated,” says NCR’s Wild. He says that the U.S. has been especially vulnerable to skimmers because it has been slow to adopt payment card chip technology. Even now that chip cards are available, they still come with magnetic stripes that store cardholder information.

How to Protect Yourself

Since you can’t always detect a skimmer, take these steps to reduce the risk that your data will be stolen:

Avoid remote ATMs and point-of-sale terminals. ATMs that are in low-trafficked, poorly lit areas are vulnerable to being tampered with by thieves. So are gas pumps that accept credit cards located at stations far from major highways. The safest ATMs, says Wild, are the vestibule and drive-up machines located at your bank. But skimmers have been found even in some of those, he says.

Don’t insert your cards into the readers. One option at gas stations is to pay the attendant directly. But don’t let the attendant move your card out of view, advise Tennessee consumer officials. Some unscrupulous workers have been found carrying portable skimmers to steal debit and credit card information. You can avoid the problem completely by using cash for purchases and by withdrawing money from a bank teller instead of by using an ATM.

Look for signs of tampering. Before using an ATM or payment device, try wiggling the keypad or card slot, advises the police department in Portland, Oregon. If anything seems loose, don’t use the device. Look for keypads that appear raised or have an unusual color, says the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Some gas pumps have security seal tape, which, if broken, indicates possible tampering. If you suspect signs of tampering, report it to the bank or retailer.

Protect your PIN. Use your hand to cover the keypad when entering a PIN in case thieves have installed a pinhole camera to record the number you enter, recommends the Better Business Bureau. While entering your PIN, Wild says it’s a good idea to place your fingers on other numbers without actually pressing them to confuse a thief who is looking at a recording. None of this, however, will protect you if a fake keypad has been placed over the original one.

Use a chip card. Credit and debit cards with chips offer better protection, says Wild. But that’s only the case if you insert the chip portion of your card into the reader. If your card must be completely inserted into the card reader, a skimmer will be able to steal the card information from the card’s magnetic stripe.

Avoid using a debit card. When making a purchase, opt for a credit card, which may provide better fraud protection than a debit card. With a debit card, there’s a risk that thieves could drain your bank account.

Check your transactions. Carefully examine your bank account and credit card activity online. Also check your statements for unusual transactions, says FICO.

Report a theft. Tell your bank or credit card issuer immediately if you find any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals. The law limits the time you have to report unauthorized transactions before your liability begins to increase.

Special thanks to our friends at Consumer Reports for this great information…

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Dave Dennis 500x500

Shred360 would like to welcome Dave Dennis to the Shred360 team as our new Director of Operations! Originally from Texas, Dave has spent the past 4 years in SC operating his own trucking company. He brings to Shred360 a wealth of experience in coordinating logistics and dispatching 15 trucks in his fleet. Dave is married with a two-year old son. Please join us in welcoming Dave to the Shred360 team!

Shred360 Blog

IRS Phone Scam

In all likelihood, there is a very good possibility that you’ve recently received a phone call (or know someone that has) from someone claiming to be from the IRS. Several of us at Shred360 have recently received these calls as well! And if you haven’t yet, the call could be coming to you soon… If you’re not prepared, these calls can be very convincing! The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent days and weeks, and especially during the most recent tax season.

‘Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,’ said IRS Commissioner John  Koskinen. ‘We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.’ In other words, if you do, in fact, owe money to the IRS, you’re already well aware of this fact and have likely already received other communications from them through the mail (ie, delinquent tax notices, bills, etc.).

Think people are smart enough to recognize this scam? Wonder how in the world someone could fall for this? Think again… This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced that they have received reports of nearly 900,000 contacts since October 2013. Folks, that’s almost a million! And they are aware of over 5,000 victims that collectively have paid over $26.5 million to scammers. And who knows how many they don’t know about! This is real, and the scammers are getting real money…from real people just like you and me.

So…how do you protect yourself?

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a phony tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave ‘urgent’ callback requests through phone ‘robo-calls’ or via an email (that appears 100% legitimate). These con artists can often alter Caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. They will use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to validate themselves. They may even use your name, address and other personal information to sound more official.

Here are five things that the scammers often do but the IRS will NEVER do. Any one of these is a huge red flag to you…

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do…

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information! Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. You can do that HERE or you can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Click HERE on and add ‘IRS Telephone Scam’ in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can assist you.
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Amer Fallen Soldiers family w Logos


The American Fallen Soldiers Project seeks to do all of these things through the portraits that they provide to the families of fallen servicemen and women. As part of Military Appreciation Month, Shred360 will be supporting this great organization once again. Last year, with your generous donations, Shred360 collected over $3000 that was sent to this worthy organization. This year, we hope to top $5000, which will fully underwrite the cost of one portrait for a fallen soldier. But…we can’t do without YOUR help and generosity!

So….how can you help you ask?

  1. You can attend one of our FREE SHRED DAYS on May 31st in honor of Military Appreciate Month. You can have up to 3 boxes/bags of sensitive files and records securely shredded AND make a donation to The American Fallen Soldiers Project while you’re there. WIN WIN! For more info and details on the upcoming shred events, please CLICK HERE
  2. If you’re not able to attend one of these free shredding events, you can send us your donation. Make checks payable to The American Fallen Soldiers Project and mail them to Shred360 at 7001 St Andrews Rd   #365    Columbia SC 29212.

If you’d like more info on The American Fallen Soldiers Project, just CLICK HERE….


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science of scams


From fraudsters bilking the elderly by posing as their cash-strapped grandkids, to fake lawyers defrauding immigrants in need of legal help, we’ve discussed many, many different scams in the past. While we all know that there are literally thousands of variations on these crimes, they are all based on the same few premises… And knowing the underlying science of scams can make it easier for consumers to spot and avoid the cons. Thanks to our friends at Consumer Reports for always teaming up to be at the forefront of protecting all of us!

An examination of hundreds of recorded scam pitches by FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that most fraudsters use the same ‘hard sell’ techniques on their targets. But unlike pushy sales people that you encounter at the mall who you can simply walk away from, scammers have other tools in their arsenal, such as being masters of persuasion and having the ability to appeal to one’s emotions.

So, while scams may evolve over time — taking on different targets and appealing to different emotions — most fraudsters subscribe to the same core strategies to lure in victims.


The first objective for most scammers is to keep targets from questioning their motivations. To do this they try to gain one’s trust (or confidence, hence the term ‘con artist’) by creating a connection. This can occur by asking you questions about your health, family, or other hot-button issues.


In order to make themselves look legitimate, most scammers will employ techniques that make them look official. This can include illegally claiming to be from federal agencies, real businesses, or non-profit organizations. Some will even go as far to fake a real phone number in order to fool Caller ID systems. These tactics are often used as a way to dissuade victims from checking for real credentials.


In the grandparent’s scam, a scammer appeals to a family member’s emotions by calling or emailing, claiming to be a grandchild in need of quick cash for an emergency. This is a similar tactic found in the lottery and natural disaster scams, where fraudsters excel at getting targets to make a quick decision based on feelings and emotions rather than logic.

A scammer will go to great lengths to dissuade you from doing your due diligence. The best ones will actually make you feel guilty for even daring to question their motives. Don’t let your common sense fall by the wayside just because someone knows how to tug at your emotions. Scammers are constantly changing their tactics to stay ahead of their victims. But, understanding the science behind their techniques will help protect you from becoming a victim.



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