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The Stubbornness of Skimming

The skimming scam is still around, so here’s everything you need to know

As digitally evolved as America is, credit card skimming — the act of stealing consumers’ credit or debit card info via electronic devices attached to point of sale systems — might seem like antiquated scam. However, a recent FICO report found that skimming has risen by 78 percent over the past two years. The danger is very real, so you need to know as much as you can about skimming to keep yourself protected.

Copy Cat

Skimmers work in a rather straightforward way. The scammer attaches the device to an ATM or any point of sale system, like a card reader at the gas station. When you swipe your card, the skimmer reads your info, copies it and stores it. The thief later removes the skimmer and accesses your data to rack up fraudulent charges. They can even sell your info to other hackers who want to use it themselves.

Swipes Are Worse

You should be on the lookout for skimmers at any place that still uses the swipe method for purchasing instead of the new chip method. That typically includes gas stations (they’re required to get chip readers by 2020), kiosks and small markets.

When in Doubt, Scan

As US News reports, the best way to avoid skimmers is use the S.C.A.N. strategy:

  • S – Scan the area for hidden cameras or anything suspicious.
  • C – Compare the card reader to the keypad. Is it the same material and color? If it’s not, that’s a sign it has been tampered with.
  • A – Assess the reader and area for other signs of skimming, like out-of-place wires or broken buttons.
  • N – Nudge the reader. Skimmers are meant to be removed, so if you feel something loose on the reader, it could be a skimmer.
  • Report Right Away

    You can avoid skimming by regularly monitoring your credit report and credit card and bank statements. If you find yourself the victim of skimming, report the incident to your credit card company or bank right away. You will likely not be held liable for any charges.

    Chris O'Shea

    Chris O'Shea