Josh over at Liquidz Blog was just lamenting a couple of days ago about not owning a credit card, and how it is practically impossible to build a credit rating without actually going into debt.
Ironically the boy got a phone call from his bank yesterday. It seems someone has ripped off his debit/ATM card by scanning his card. Thankfully the money he lost was only around $500 - and the bank's anti-fraud department were immediately alerted to the unusual activity on his card and were able to alert him before any further damage was done. The bank immediately cancelled his card, started an investigation and have said that his lost cash will be reimbursed to him.
We get calls like this all the time at work. Credit card and debit card fraud are huge. There are teams that hook up their scanning equipment directly on the bank ATM's , they sit nearby collecting all the data via computer, they collect their equipment and move on to hit another bank. Alternatively we have unscrupulous store keepers double swipe cards and sell the data, or allow the crooks to install their equipment for a "fee". We aren't sure which scenario occurred in our case...but it certainly makes one feel very uncomfortable when swiping your debit card to make a purchase.
I know personally I carry very little cash. I would say 90% if not more of my purchases are made by direct debit. I felt it was safer. It's becoming very common now though to hear of bandits literally "kidnapping" people on their driveways, driving them to banks and forcing them to withdraw funds from their bank machines. These two recent news reports occurred less than 30 minutes from my home. Not in some big metropolis city...but out in the suburbs!
So much for the old fashioned "Stick 'em up and give me your wallet" routine. Today's wallet carries very little in the way of cold hard cash.
The experts are always telling us of new technology out there, finger print technology, retina scans etc. I wonder how long before the financial institutions are going to have to use something a little more high tech than a bank card and a PIN number to safeguard our funds.