Using public computers for financial transactions is risky business


One criminal who netted $750,000 from identity theft activities shows us exactly why it's dangerous to use public computer terminals for your financial business. This guy checked into expensive hotels and installed keystroke logging software on the computers in the business centers.

Business travelers would use the computers in the business centers, and the thief's software would capture every single thing they typed. Credit card numbers? Logged. Passwords? Logged. PIN numbers? All logged thanks to this spyware. The guy did this in at least 25 hotels between 2004 and 2007. My guess is that he probably did it at more, but these hotels were just the ones that the police found out about.

Beware when using public computer terminals in libraries, airports, coffee shops, hotels, and the like. You have no idea what software could be installed on the computer, or how secure the internet connection is. Act as if the public at large is seeing exactly what you are doing, because someone really might be watching and waiting for you to type in your confidential information.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.