As Fraud Prevention Month continues investigators would like to warn the public about a common practice known as Shoulder Surfing.
Shoulder Surfing can occur when a person stands behind you and watches while you enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN) into an ABM or into a point of sale terminal to make a purchase. This can also be done when you are filling out a form which contains personal identification information, or when you enter your password or PIN for your cell phones, or to access websites. It is particularly effective in crowded places as it is relatively easy to observe someone without them being aware they are being watched.
Use your hand and body to shield your card and the terminal when you are entering your PIN into the machine. This will help prevent your information from being compromised. Make sure no one is standing close enough to you to look over your shoulder and ensure there is sufficient distance between you and anyone who could see what you are entering. Be aware of anyone who may be using their phone to take a video or pictures while you are entering your PIN.
If you are filling out a form that has your personal identification information, try and fill out the form in an area where you can observe if anyone is watching and trying to obtain your information. If this is not an option, be mindful of anyone who is standing close to you or seems to be paying extra attention to you. Be aware of anyone who may be using their phone to take a video or pictures while you are entering your information. If the form needs to be handed in, protect your information by holding it face down or in a folder so it cannot be read by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Durham Police are aware of incidents in which shoulder surfing has occurred, wallets or purses have been stolen, and the debit and credit cards being used a short time later. Maintain control of your wallets and purses, for example do not leave your purse unattended in a cart while shopping.
If you suspect you have been a victim of shoulder surfing, notify your bank immediately to alert them and change your PIN code. If you suspect someone has been able to obtain your personal information flag your account with credit rating agencies such as
Shoulder Surfing (JPG file, 361.1K bytes)