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Credit Card Technology Changes Today

October 1, 2015 Crime, Economy, Featured, Retail 3 Comments
By May 2014 the Target on Hampton had these new readers with an EMV slot
By May 2014 the Target on Hampton had these new readers with an EMV slot

Our current credit & debit cards are different than they were decades ago. In the mid-80s, during high school & college, I worked at Toys “R” Us and Dillard’s. In those days we made an impression of the credit card to document the transaction, the credit card number was entered manually to get approval. Sometimes we had to call in to get an authorization number.

The magnetic strip on credit cards came later, greatly simplifying transactions.   The technology was developed in the late 60s, but it took a long time to get ir on credit cards and for retailers to be equipped to swipe cards rather than complete an embossed charge receipt. Eventually the magnetic strip became ubiquitous. Criminals also found many ways to exploit the weaknesses.

The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards. (NPR)

NPR continues:

Other countries moved beyond this technology years ago. The U.K., Canada and Hong Kong are already using chip-based cards, which are considered more secure. (Magnetic stripe technology is decades old.) Cards using the chip-and-PIN system have an embedded microchip. Instead of swiping the part with a magnetic stripe, you put the card into a terminal, then enter a PIN or sign your name. It’s more expensive for criminals to forge these cards, says Brian Krebs, a security journalist who writes for Krebs on Security and broke the story on the breach at Target.

Several of our cards have the new chips, called EMV:

EMV chip technology is becoming the global standard for credit card and debit card payments. Named after its original developers (Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®), this technology features payment instruments (cards, mobile phones, etc.) with embedded microprocessor chips that store and protect cardholder data. This standard has many names worldwide and may also be referred to as: “chip and PIN” or “chip and signature.” (Chase)

In 2013 local grocery chain Schnucks was breached, leading many to stolen credit card numbers. National retailers were also hacked. October 1, 2015 — today — was set as a deadline to switch to the EMV cards. However, this wasn’t a government mandate.

After an Oct. 1, 2015, deadline created by major U.S. credit card issuers MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, the liability for card-present fraud will shift to whichever party is the least EMV-compliant in a fraudulent transaction. (CreditCards.com)

So retailers have been updating their credit card terminals to prepare for today’s deadline. Yesterday, at IKEA, the restaurant cashier put my EMV-chip card in the slot rather than swipe it. Later, at FedEx Office (aka Kinko’s) the terminal had the slot but the employee didn’t know when it would be activated. Target recently sent us new EMV RedCard debit cards — but not the RedCard credit cards we currently use.  We just got a new credit card within the last couple of weeks — it didn’t include an EMV chip. Yesterday the issuer said we’d have replacements by the end of October with EMV chips.

Some retailers, in updating their terminals, have added NFC/contactless capability.

NFC (near-field communication) allows two devices placed within a few centimeters of each other to exchange data. In order for this to work, both devices must be equipped with an NFC chip. 

In the real world, there are a essentially two ways this works. 

Two-way communication: This involves two devices that can both read and write to each other. For example, using NFC, you can touch two Android devices together to transfer data like contacts, links, or photos. 

One-way communication: Here, a powered device (like a phone, credit card reader, or commuter card terminal) reads and writes to an NFC chip. So, when you tap your commuter card on the terminal, the NFC-powered terminal subtracts money from the balance written to the card. (CNET)

My husband’s iPhone has been able to utilize this technology for payment for a year, I just got a new iPhone with this ability — ApplePay. Others include Google Pay & Samsung Pay. Confused yet?

Basically you want to avoid your cards being swiped. You want to use cards with a chip by inserting them in the chip readers. Not all retailers have to meet today’s deadline. Gas pumps, for example, have until 2017 to be updated.

If you accept credit cards you need to be working on updating ASAP, and training staff to insert EMV cards rather than swipe them. If you use plastic, be aware of the differences and how to use them, If your smartphone can make contactless payments I’d suggest using that. Samsung Pay will even work with older magnetic stripe terminals.

While we have these new EMV cards, our issuers don’t yet have the PIN number portion set up, so they’re Chip & signature for now.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Opposed To New Missouri Law Commissioning Corporate Security

September 30, 2015 Crime, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Opposed To New Missouri Law Commissioning Corporate Security

The results from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Missouri’s Public Safety Dept can now commission corporate security advisors, include arrest powers.

  1. Strongly opposed 19 [50%]
  2. TIE 4 [10.53%]
    1. Somewhat support
    2. Opposed
  3. Somewhat opposed 3 [7.89%]
  4. TIE 2 [5.26%]
    1. Support
    2. Strongly support
    3. Neutral
    4. Unsure/No Answer

Overall those opposed far outnumber supporters — 68.42% to 21.05%.

The new applies to off-duty or retired police officers that work security for corporations like Anheuser Busch, Ameren, and even Metro.

“Metrolink has officers in that have authority in Missouri and Illinois, some are St. Louis City, some are St. Louis County, some are St. Clair so they’re all cross deputized so this simplifies that process,” said Hill.

But opponents like Patricia Bynes, the Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson, say the new statute gives security guards too much power.

“When you’re a police officer you have a certain jurisdiction that you have to police in, this goes beyond that as long as you work for a corporation in this state you have those powers in the state, that’s extremely scary,” said Bynes. (KMOV)

I don’t see anything good coming from this, only bad. Hopefully I’m wrong.

— Steve Patterson


Parking Enforcement Officer Kept Putting A Blue Bag In A Vehicle Displaying A Fake Ticket

If you drive & park in an urban area you’ve likely received a parking ticket one time or another. So it’s no surprise that I frequently see tickets on vehicles on my trips to/from the grocery store 7 blocks East of my loft. Earlier this month I noticed the same vehicle parked in the same spot as the day before — with a ticket just like the day before. How unusual.

Thursday August 13th 11:21am, Eastbound Locust between 15th & 16th
Thursday August 13th 11:21am, Eastbound Locust between 15th & 16th

Then I noticed a Parking Enforcement car park behind it. Maybe they’re about to boot it, I thought. I go to the corner and then across the street so I can get a good view. The woman from Parking Enforcement grabbed a blue bag out of the back seat of her official vehicle and walks toward the ticketed vehicle.    I wasn’t expecting what happened next.

She opened the front door, unlocked the other doors, opened the back door and left the blue bag on the rear seat. She locks the doors at the front, returns to her official vehicle, drives off. Huh?

A Parking Enforcement Officer (PEO) takes a blue bag from her official vehicle and puts it in the backseat of the ticketed vehicle! Why? What’s in the bag? What started as a curiosity about a vehicle getting ticketed for parking in the exact same spot quickly became a curiosity about the connection between this vehicle, the PEO, and the contents of the blue bag.

Tuesday August 18 1:11pm
Tuesday August 18 1:11pm

I thought by now the ticket had to be a decoy, but I needed proof.

Monday August 24th 12:59pm
Monday August 24th 12:59pm, on the way to the grocery store
At 1:35pm I rolled back the envelope to conform the "ticket" was a blank.
At 1:35pm I rolled back the envelope to conform the “ticket” was a blank.

I’ve documented the fake ticket, but I still needed the bag drop off.

At 3:19pm I'm across the street trying not to look conspicuous -- as well as a shaved head guy in a wheelchair can.
At 3:19pm I’m across the street trying not to look conspicuous — as well as a shaved head guy in a wheelchair can.
At 3:43pm the PEO is getting  a blue bag out of her official vehicle.
At 3:43pm the PEO is getting a blue bag out of her official vehicle.
As before she walks to the other vehicle
As before she walks to the other vehicle
3:44pm she opens the driver's door
3:44pm she opens the driver’s door
With the driver's door still open she puts the blue bag in back. She closes the rear door and locked the doors from the front.
With the driver’s door still open she puts the blue bag in back. She closes the rear door and locked the doors from the front.
3:45pm she's back in her work vehicle about to pull away
3:45pm she’s back in her work vehicle about to pull away

At this point I feel I have enough to blog about my observations and report to Parking Enforcement and Treasurer Tishaura Jones.  I still have unanswered questions: Is this her vehicle? Is she dropping off her gym bag for after work?

Two days later, Wednesday last week, I go to the grocery store and the vehicle isn’t there both times I pass by the space. Five minutes later I go out in front of my building to talk to someone — they’ve left but I can see the vehicle now parked there. I go down and see it has the fake ticket under the wiper — of course it does!

A man approaches me and starts yelling at me.

“Why you fucking with my car?”

“You’d better mind your own fucking business!”

Then something about being in a wheelchair. By this point I’m leaving — I felt threatened and vulnerable. But across Locust at 16th I turned to look back and take one more photo.

Wednesday August 26th at 12:51pm, the vehicle and guy who threatened me in the distance -- he's wearing a red shirt with white shorts & cap. .
Wednesday August 26th at 12:51pm, the vehicle and guy who threatened me in the distance — he’s wearing a red shirt with white shorts & cap. .
Here's a blurry cropped view.
Here’s a blurry cropped view.

Given that I was threatened I called 911, the police looked at my photos to get the vehicle plate and city number on the parking enforcement car. They talked to the PEO supervisor.  I then emailed the head of Parking Enforcement, Tishaura Jones, and her Chief of Staff — a reply said they’d investigate.  At this point I don’t know anymore than you do.

At the very least this guy and the PEO were in cahoots with the fake ticket, but I think there’s much more to the story. When, and if, I find out I’ll let you know.

— Steve Patterson




Downtown & Downtown West Neighborhoods Should Be Merged Into One

Technically Downtown, a city neighborhood, is only East of Tucker Blvd (12th). So much of what we think of as downtown is considered Downtown West.

Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website
Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website

All of the following are located not in Downtown, but in Downtown West:

  • Police Headquarters (old & new)
  • City Hall
  • Peabody Opera House
  • Scottrade Center
  • Main U.S. Post Office
  • Soliders Memorial (WWI)
  • Central Library
  • City Museum
  • Campbell House
  • Downtown YMCA
  • Union Station
  • Schlafly’s Tap Room
  • Civic Center MetroLink/MetroBus
  • Transportation Center (Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus)

But I don’t want news reporters outside police HQ to say “Reporting from Downtown West”, I think we should combine the two.

From a 1989 Post-Dispatch article:

SECTIONS OF St. Louis have an identity crisis, says Mayor Vincent C. SchoemehlJr. ”There’s this impression that north St. Louis is some monolithic area that’s unfit to live in,” Schoemehl said. ”Frankly, there’re some very good neighborhoods in north St. Louis, as good as any around. But when you hear about a murder or a rape or some other crime occurring in north St. Louis, all the neighborhoods in north St. Louis become tarred with the same brush.” The identity crisis has sparked a campaign, beginning this week, that stresses neighborhoods – 74 to be exact. No longer will there just be the North Side, the South Side, the Central West End or downtown. ”This is one of our attempts to market the neighborhoods of the city,” said Clara Kinner, director of communications for the city’s Economic Development Corp. ”People should understand that there are several different neighborhoods with several different personalities and attributes,” she said. Many, but not all, of the new neighborhood boundaries will coincide with the boundaries set by existing neighborhood associations, Kinner said. (P4, October 15, 1989)

So when the city first created the neighborhood map it had 74 neighborhoods, but currently it is 79:

There are 79 different neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style and characteristics. Many of these neighborhoods have very active community organizations and associations. Some are on the rebound, while others have remained stable for decades, and still others are striving for renewal. A variety of sources for information about neighborhoods exist, both on and off this website. None of these sources include everything there is to know about a neighborhood, but by putting together information from each of these sources, one may get a sense of the incredible variety of lifestyles available in the diverse neighborhoods of the City of St. Louis. (St. Louis Neighborhoods)

Now you might be wondering if the Downtown West neighborhood association would object to being consolidated with Downtown’s NA. Well, there has never been a separate Downtown West neighborhood association. The Downtown Neighborhood Association boundaries had included all of Downtown and about half of Downtown West, but last month their bylaws were amended to expand their boundaries to match both.

The Downtown Community Improvement District boundaries also includes much of Downtown West. Just because people in 1989 wanted to better identify where murders happened doesn’t mean we can’t alter the map 26 years later. It’s time to reduce the 79 neighborhoods to 78!

— Steve Patterson



Readers Not Interested in Poll on Hot Spot Policing

July 15, 2015 Crime 1 Comment

Only ten votes in Sunday’s poll, less than a third of the usual number. This could be because 1) I moved the poll location from the sidebar to the body post, 2) because of the topic/phrasing, or 3) a combination.

Q: How effective is “Hot Spot Policing”?

  1. Somewhat good 5 [33.33%]
  2. Good 3 [20%]
  3. TIE 2 [13.33%]
    1. Somewhat poor
    2. Unsure/No Answer
    3. Very poor
  4. Neutral 1 [6.67%]
  5. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Poor
    2. Very good

I have no insight into the question, but “Hot Spot Policing” doesn’t seem to address the root causes of much of our crime in the areas targeted. Some headlines this year:

Perhaps crime would be worse if hot spot policing wasn’t used? We shouldn’t continue ignoring the root causes though.

— Steve Patterson




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