Blog posts of '2014' 'February'

EMV - Rattling the Cage

Recent cyber criminal activity has created quite the fuss. One of their largest targets? Target.

Over the holidays Target customers had their data and information hacked at an alarming rate. Since then Targets profits have fallen by more then 40%. In an attempt to restore it's image and integrety among it's  customers, Target has vowed to replace all of their terminals to EMV, or smart card readers by the end of the year. In addition to proving their dedication to data security, Target will also be issuing "Red Cards" with an embedded chips.

So what?

Well this has gotten a few people talking. The EMV wake is coming, and much like a teenager putting off mowing the lawn, companies are waiting until the last minute. However, the reactive approach can cost not only Target, but private ATM Owners as well. We all know MasterCard's liability shift goes into effect October 1, 2016, giving us two years to be proactive and ensuring our equipment is updated and EMV ready. But if Target has shown us anything it's that companies were expecting to take the reactive approach.

Targert's motivation was drawn from their customers. Consumers are pushing politicians to get EMV over and done with as soon as possible so as to avoid any more breaches. To large companies such as Target and Macy's however, the convenience was the time that so many customers are hoping gets cut down. Over all consumer awareness will be what drives mandated educational programs on the corporate level so that businesses will be active listeners and proactive EMV advocates.

The ATM Business: Breaking down the start up cost

Everyone wants to own a business, be their own boss and have control of their lives. The ideas are fairly simple to come by, half the time they're some form of a passion. The problem is that would-be entrepreneurs can't seem to get passed that first barrier: start up cost.  

People are always intrigued when I tell them we sell ATMs, not knowing that you could in fact own an ATM.  And that initial hint of curiosity is usually followed up with a question: How much does it cost to get involved? And the answer is the same everytime, "not as much as you think".

Your largest expense will be the ATM itself, the great thing about running your own ATM business is you have the ability to work from home, so you don't need to purchase or lease office space, or atleast not at this time. When it comes down to your first machine, start simple. A base model will run you about $1,700 - $2,000 for a brand new terminal. You can find some machines online (i.e. Craigslist or Amazon) but in my experience there is usally something wrong with them or not compliant and may in fact end up costing you the same amount in repairs as a new machine.  If you do take the online route I strongly recommend utilizing to search for used equipment.

Now, we're at $2,000 and we need to ensure out new ATM has some form of communcation.  Most machines are still connected through a dial up connection, which at one point was the standard, but it's 2013, and Cat 3 (telephone) technology hasn't had a major advancement since the 60s. So I recommend connecting your machine through an internet connection. How? You purchase "conversion boxes" for upwards of $200 that will convert an internet connection into a dial tone, allowing your machine to connect to it's host through an internet connection, or you can go wireless. Using a device like the 8100-IP from ATMTrader will allow your ATM to connect wirelessly.

Cash is another hot topic that most people are worried about. "How can I make money when people are taking out MY cash from my ATM?" Let me clear this up. The cash you're using, whether it's $500 or $5,000 is not lost to you. In fact the cash you use to load your machine gets recycled back into your bank account so that you always have cash handy. Most start up companies will get small personal or business loans to get the cash to load their machines with, then overtime use the profits from the business to pay back the loan.  

The over all cost will run about $2,500 for your equpment, a relativaly small amount for starting your business.

Next week I'll go over some other processing costs you may encounter as well as negotiating the division of your surcharge.

EMV: What it's costing America

How much is EMV Costing the U.S.?

Guess! Okay I'll tell you, but before I do lets go over some of the details:

Billions of credit cards have to be re-issued, 10 million POS cardreaders have to be replaced and we're still  a little over two years away from MasterCard's liability shift deadline.  Experts say it will cost the United States upwards of $35 billion! It's obvious that the train is moving and there is no stopping it but recently the push to get this transition over and done with has become more aggressive since the infamous Target breach over the holidays. 

France first switched over to smartcard technology back in 1992, now in 2013 americans are urging their government, retailers and banks to make the switch as quickly as possible. Following recent information breaches, Target alone has pledged to have all of their terminals switched over to smartcard readers by the end of the year, while also issuing out "red cards" for their customers with an embedded chip.

So why the late transition? Up until just a few years ago it wasn't seen as a necessity. We rolled with the punches and did what we could to get by, despite the fact that that an estimated $8.6 billion is lost each year to some form of fraud.  Countries like France and Columbia have seen massive improvements since adopting EMV (up to 98% decreases). However it took the U.S. much longer to realize how necessary the transition is.  To put it plainley, we waited for the worst to happen, and it's costing us money. 

We'll never know if we could have saved money had the transition been earlier in the millennium. Either way, we'll be saving billions of people from fraud, so the cost is justified.

-Sources MSN

Keeping track of your money: Enroll in text alerts

I've always wanted to travel to Europe and visit Italy, England, Ireland and Spain, but like most of the country life gets in the way and we just assume that we'll make that commitment later in life.  

However, according to my bank statement i've already been to London and attempted a purchase of over $1,000.  And just a few hours before there were two charges that occured stateside in Maryland, one for $8 and some change and another for $3. Who knows how this happened or why it happened to me, all I cared about was the fact that I caught it. And it wouldnt have been a red flag for me if I hadn't enrolled in text alerts.

In a recent blog entitled Counterfeit Fraud: How it works and how to prevent it, I went over some techniques of how thieves can obtain your card information and their methods of securing your funds. There was the method of shipping a physical compromised card to a country, as well as card-not-present.  In this example, card not present was the method of choice. Somehow, at some point, my data was compromised. i happen to feel that I'm situationally aware when it comes to pulling cash from an ATM. I don't send my account information to anyone, I don't text it to anyone. So the only thing that really came to mind was a method that some hackers have adopted to literally view activity on your computer called "evil twin".

I can't remember the last time I connected to a coffee shop's WiFi, but i can tell you that I have connected to their "unlocked" connections.  Before I became "Security Plus" certified I wasn't aware of this, but when you go to a coffee shop, bakery, bookstore or restaurant the first thing you do is connect to their WiFi. Which by the way may be counter-productive, since a crowded WiFi connection can actually be slower then your data stream. However, when you search for a connection, locations should have have a secure connection with an image of a padlock next to the signal strength indicator, it's not necessarily a redflag if it is unlocked. The redfag should go up when you see two internet connections with the same EXACT name while one is secured and the other is not password protected.  Chances are that unsecured connection, though it's more convenient to connect to, may in fact be an evil twin.  

An evil twin is when someone is using their laptop/tablet/smartphone to impersonate a router. When you think you're connecting to a free wireless connection, you in fact be connecting to someones smart device.

Now that someone has seen you purchase new shoes or book a hotel, your card information has become compromised.  It's just a matter of time before the hacker attempts to use your information.  Again, who knows when my information was stolen, what matters is the fact that I caught it with the help of text alerts. My hackers attempted two small test transactions to ensure the card works and to avoid redflags, followed by a large transaction to get more money in one sitting. 

Though I will always be careful when inputting card information and hope my new card comes in the mail before the weekend, I will more then likely scratch London off of my list of places to visit.  Remember, use websites that are verisgn certified and guarantee your account's safety. And ofcourse, enroll in text alerts!