Liquor store owner warns about credit card scam

An Edmonton businessman says he is out hundreds of dollars after a credit card scam.

An Edmonton liquor store owner is trying to spread the word about a credit card scam that could hurt small business owners

Bhupinder Dhanoa says he is out hundreds of dollars after a customer scammed him. 1:48

An Edmonton businessman says he is out hundreds of dollars after a credit card scam.

Bhupinder Dhanoa owns a liquor store on 111th Avenue. He says he was recently scammed out of nearly $800 by a customer using a credit card chip reader.

Dhanoa says the transaction seemed standard — he punched the total sale into his store’s credit card machine and handed the unit over to the customer to enter his security pin number.

Unknown to Dhanoa, however, the customer inserted the non-chip end of his credit card into the machine. With no chip to read from, Dhanoa says the machine prompted the customer to hand over his credit card so a card imprint could be taken.

But Dhanoa says the customer instead quickly bypassed the screen, and manually entered in the number and expiry date for a stolen credit card. The transaction was approved and the customer left the store.

It wasn’t until later that Dhanoa received word a stolen credit card number had been used, prompting him to review security footage which revealed the forged interaction.

Dhanoa says he contacted the company that supplied the credit card machine to complain that customers should not be allowed to punch in credit card numbers themselves, but was told that he was to blame.

But Dhanoa says it is not always possible to keep a sharp eye on every customer using the machine. He says the customer in question clearly knew what he was doing, as he was able to navigate the machine’s prompts very quickly.

He doesn’t think store-owners should be held financially responsible after operations like this — especially since the scam exploits a weakness within the credit card machines themselves, he says.

"It’s bad for a small business owner," said Dhanoa. He is now trying to spread the word to other store owners so they will not be taken in by the same scam.

Now, he says, he is keeping a much closer eye on customers and is refusing to serve anyone who won’t hand their card over to him for scanning.

In a statement made to CBC News, the company selling the pin pads said it was proactive in fraud prevention, but was not able to speak about this specific incident owing to customer confidentiality.

As for Dhanoa, he said he will soon be getting a new credit card machine for his store.