UNT Students Help Develop Credit Card Skimmer Detector

New technology created by students of the University of North Texas can detect credit card skimmers.

The team of UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) high school students has developed small, hand held wand that can detect Bluetooth signals and warn users of a skimmer device in gas pumps, ATMs and other machines that take credit cards.

Users can hold up the wand to the machine to see if a skimmer is present. The wand will turn red if a skimmer is detected, yellow if there is a possibility of one and green if no skimmer was detected. The patent on the wand is pending.

The students helped create the device under the guidance of The University of North Texas Cyber Forensics Technology Lab, headed by Scott Belshaw, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Michael Saylor, president of Cyber Defense Labs.

“The technology we’ve developed will allow business owners to perform daily scans as a proactive measure against credit card skimmers and provide consumers with peace of mind,” said Belshaw. “It will allow businesses to assure their customers that they can detect skimmers before a credit card is captured and their valuable information has been compromised.”

Credit card fraud has been occurring more frequently at gas stations and ATMs, with criminals inserting skimmer devices into machines that read a card’s expiration date, security code and 16-digit card number once it is swiped. The information is then sent via Bluetooth to the nearby criminal who will sell the victim’s information on the dark web.

Belshaw says the TAMS high school students have proven invaluable in developing the technology.

“They understand the computer science and coding side of things,” Belshaw said. “So, if I tell them I need to achieve a specific task, or I need a certain type of software, they’ll make it happen. Having their level of intelligence and skill is invaluable.”

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