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Scam of the Week: Card Skimming Theft

Debit/credit card skimming is on the rise because it is easy for scammers.

Card skimming happens when thieves "skim" your credit or debit card information using a device that affixes to a card reader on something like an ATM machine or gas station pump. It blends in with the existing equipment well enough that unsuspecting consumers never notice it.

It is difficult to detect because the criminals place the skimming device over existing card reader slots. Once, you slide your card, the device captures your account information. Some also have a tiny camera to see your PIN as you enter it. Once they obtain your card information, it only costs scammers a small amount to order a card online that is linked to your account.

U.S. Secret Service estimates that identity theft scammers steal billions of dollars each year through skimming. Skimmers can be found anywhere; ATM’s, gas pumps, even inside stores.

To protect yourself and those you look after, following these suggestions from experts:

  1. If an ATM machine doesn't look right to you, you can literally tug on the card slot to see if it's loose. Crooks often install their skimming devices right over the real one, and many consumers have had them come off right in their hands.

  2. Cover your hand while entering your PIN, so that if criminals have installed a surveillance camera, they will not be able to see your secret code.

  3. Experts suggest, "re-pinning”; which is changing your PIN; your credit and debit cards every six months.

  4. When it's time for a new credit or debit card, you can ask for a fresh card number. This will stop the cycle of theft if your old card has already been compromised.

  5. Thieves often install skimmers inside gas pump credit card slots. To thwart them, pay inside or pay cash.

  6. Finally, consider using a credit card rather than a debit card, so that if crooks DO access your account, they are stealing the bank's money not your own money. That way your own funds won’t be compromised while the bank investigates.

Sources: CyberGuy and ABC News

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