Identifying and Avoiding Card Skimmers

July 26, 2023

By now, most of us have heard of card skimming, a big business for thieves. According to the FBI, card skimming costs consumers and financial institutions more than $1 billion each year.

A card skimmer is a small electronic device affixed to a card-reader slot that skims or collects payment card information. Skimmers can be found anywhere payment cards are swiped or inserted into a payment terminal, including:

  • ATMs
  • Automated fuel dispensers
  • Convenience stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Discount stores
  • And more

As technology advances, so do fraudsters’ methods. For example, some skimming devices now utilize Bluetooth transmission to capture debit or credit card information. This method makes it much harder to catch criminals because they can receive card data remotely and don’t have to return to the card reader slot physically.

How to Spot a Skimmer

Today, fraudsters design card skimmers to blend in and have the appearance of an authentic part of the ATM machine or card-reader slot. The following points are a quick and easy reference to help identify a skimmer:

  • Examine the card reader.
  • Does the slot seem out of alignment?
  • Is the card-reader slot loose, or does it seem flimsy?
  • Is the card reader intact?
  • Does the card-reader slot seem as if it is coming apart or glued in place?

The most important thing to keep in mind is legitimate ATM and point-of-sale terminals are designed to be heavy-duty and should never seem loose or poorly manufactured.

Card Skimming Process

Skimming devices can capture credit or debit card information, including the cardholder’s name, card number and expiration date. Criminals can then use this information to produce counterfeit cards.

A counterfeit card has the same information as the compromised card, which means anytime the fake card is used, the original debit or credit card account will receive the charge. Bad actors may also sell debit or credit card data on the dark web and to other criminals.

Proactive Steps to Avoid Being a Victim of Card Skimming

Consider and share the following tips to protect yourself and your accountholders from card skimmer scams:

  • When using automated fuel dispensers, compare the card reader slot to other pumps. Avoid using automated fuel pumps far from the store’s front door or out of view of security cameras.
  • Inspect the keypad and card reader slot. If these items seem loose or out of place, there’s the possibility a card-skimming device could be in play. Go inside the business and ask the manager to alert the authorities.
  • Hidden cameras, often used with card-reader slots, are more challenging to spot. You’ll need to inspect above the card-reader slot and keypad to see if there are any tiny holes that may be hiding a camera to steal your PIN.

For additional insight on card skimming, check out this FBI resource.

Courtesy of SHAZAM.NET


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