Card skimming is a tactic used to steal credit or debit card information. Card skimming involves swiping your credit or debit card through a card reader that has been illegally set up to record information from your card’s magnetic stripe. Skimming devices are usually installed on machines like ATMs and handheld pin pads, but also come as standalone, portable versions. It is very difficult for victims to know when, how, and where their cards were skimmed. Your card’s details may have been skimmed months or years prior to you discovering any fraudulent transactions on your statements. This is why it’s important to review your monthly statements.
The five most common places card skimming may occur are:
- The Gas Pump
- ATM Machines
- Department Stores
- Call Centers
There are steps you can take when you are using your credit, debit or ATM card, to lower the risk of card skimming.
- Cover your keypad – Always use your hand and body to cover your keypad when operating a handheld pinpad or a payment processing machine like an ATM.
- Watch your card – If you must hand your debit or credit card to an employee, don’t take your eyes off of it. It only takes a second for your card to be swiped while you look the other way.
- Pay up front – When eating at restaurants, ask to pay up front instead of giving your credit card to a server for processing.
- Review your statements – Make it a habit to scrutinize your monthly credit card and bank statements. Look for suspicious charges. It helps to keep receipts to help verify or question transactions that appear on your statements.
- Notify someone – If you spot a suspicious pinpad, ATM or payment processing machine, notify your bank or police immediately.