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Credit Card Skimming

Fraud Prevention


As you slide your credit or debit card into a compromised machine, the card skimmer reads the magnetic strip on your card and stores the number. Your pin can also be captured if a fake keypad was placed over the real one. At a later time, the thieves scoop up the information and use it or sell it. You're most likely you see these devices as gas pumps, ATMs or metro station ticket kiosks. But if your card leaves your sight at a restaurant or department store, an employee could use a skimmer to get your card information.



According to the National Association for Convenience Stores:

  • 37 million Americans refuel every day.

  • Of them, 29 million pay for fuel with a credit card or debit card.

  • When skimming occurs at a gas station, it usually takes place at only one pump.

  • A single compromised pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.



  • Inspect the card reader and the area near the PIN Pad. Remember SCAN. (see below)

  • Trust Your Instincts: If in doubt, use another pump.

  • Choose pumps closest to a physical building.

  • Using a credit card with chip technology will make it harder for thieves to skim your data.

  • Avoid using your PIN at the Gas Pump. Go inside to pay.

  • Keep an eye on your account. Check your financial statements regularly.



Use this quick checklist when you're at the card reader:

S - Scan the area for hidden camera that record you typing your PIN. Always cover your hand while you type in your PIN.

C - Compare the card reader and keypad to the rest of the machine. The colors and styles should all match, and graphics should be aligned and unobscured.

A - Assess for obvious signs of tampering. The panels may be broken or dented, or a security seal may be broken.

N - Nudge the card reader and keypad. Card skimmers and fake keypads are meant to be removed, so if they feel loose, you may have spotted a skimmer.



THE BALANCE - How credit card skimming works

FORBES - Tips to help avoid card skimming at atms while traveling

LIFEWIRE - How to avoid credit card skimmers

NBC NEWS - Secret Service cracks down credit card skimming