Credit and debit card skimming theft is on the rise dramatically. FICO, the banking research firm, reports that results show an increase surging 6 times the amount year over year. One reason is the ease of skimming technology that criminals can get their hands on. In our own investigation, we were able to order a credit card skimmer for under $20 on Amazon and have it delivered within a day. The trouble is that these skimming devices are even more difficult to detect as crooks put them over existing ATM card slots, locked ATM lobby access doors and gas station pumps.
The only way to spot a skimming device is when it wiggles when or some glue shows. Otherwise, they look like a normal functioning piece of payment technology. Instead, they are added onto the legit devices to capture your card numbers and often use pin hole cameras to spy on the entry of your secret PIN code. Once captured, they either make duplicate cards or sell the card and pin numbers overseas.
HOW SKIMMING WORKS
Bad guy puts skimming device over existing card entry slot on machines
Once they have your card number and PIN, they can make duplicate fakes cards and take your money.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CREDIT CARD SKIMMING THEFT
1) Check the card entry slot on an ATM and at a gas pump. It should not wiggle, show glue, or look different from nearby machines.
2) Use your other hand to cover the keypad when entering your code.
3) Sign up for transaction alerts from your bank to detect unauthorized charges and watch your bank statements carefully. You only have 60 days to report fraud to your bank.
My card got nailed at a RaceTrac gas station pump and only learned about when my credit card company called asking about potential fraud. It turns out that they had pinpointed the location of the skimming based on other customers also falling victim to the rip-off and who had also gone to the same gas station. Aside from the prevalence of skimmers for sale online making this increase in crime easier, more sophisticated thieves can turn to 3D printers to recreate authentic-looking slot covers that contain skimmers. Now I find myself paying more and more frequently without my credit card and instead opt for Apple Pay where my card can’t be skimmed.
Kurt the CyberGuy is an award-winning journalist, investor and innovator who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better. Our reports contain affiliate links that earn us a commission when a reader buys independently selected gadgets and gear within our articles. This supports our work investigating technology. More about our policies are here.
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