Credit card skimmers are fraudulent devices that can steal credit or debit card credentials and cause huge financial harm. This article explains how credit card skimmers work and how to spot them.
Credit card skimmers are devices criminals use to steal card information at ATMs, gas pumps, and other payment terminals. Here are several types of card skimming machines that criminals may use to steal credit card information:
It’s crucial to be aware of skimmer attacks and to stay vigilant when using your credit or debit card, especially at unfamiliar locations.
Skimmers come in all shapes and sizes. Also, they have different degrees of complexity. Some skimmers are physically attached to a payment machine to extend the card slot. Others are hidden cameras that attempt to capture sensitive data while you’re making a payment.
Thieves also use fake keypads, Bluetooth skimmers, and “card shimming” devices (paper-thin strips that hide inside a card slot waiting to clone the magnetic stripe of a payment card.)
Credit card skimming happens when a skimmer reads your credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe after you insert it into a compromised machine. The device can store the cardholder’s name, card number, and expiration date. It gathers the data from all the cards that account holders insert into the reader until the thief collects it.
Although skimming devices are designed to be invisible, it’s possible to identify them by performing a visual and physical examination. Here are a few simple steps you can take:
Skimming attacks at gas stations are super common. Even though many gas stations have security cameras, thieves find ways to install gas pump skimmers.
Each gas pump should have security tape or a sticker over the cabinet panel. Avoid using the card reader if the tape looks ripped or broken. There’s a high chance a thief has tampered with it.
Also, physically inspect a fuel pump’s card reader and a keypad. Feel around the reader and try to wiggle it to see if it’s securely attached. If it’s not, the device could be fraudulent. Consider paying inside at the gas station counter.
Criminals could use stolen card information in a few ways: to create fake credit cards, make fraudulent purchases, or sell stolen data online.
Try to check your bank account regularly. This way, you’ll be aware of all transactions made with your card. Have you noticed something suspicious, for example, online purchases you don’t recognize? Report suspicious transactions to your bank or your credit card issuer immediately.
The good news is that you can improve your credit card safety by following simple steps:
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