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Your Life

Watch Out for Card Skimming

We’re all using our credit and debit cards more frequently, and thieves are stepping up their game to keep up with our habits. Criminals have been known to install devices at ATMs, gas pumps, and other locations where cards are scanned to capture information from a cardholder. This is known as card skimming.

How does card skimming work?

A small, portable device is temporarily attached to the original card scanner. As your card passes through the scanner, the information contained on the magnetic strip is captured by the skimming device. With ATMs, the crooks may also place a small camera nearby or install a fake keypad over the real one to capture your PIN.

Fraudulent transactions using information from skimmed cards may take weeks or months to occur. Victims of credit card skimming are often unaware of the theft until they notice unauthorized charges on their account.

How to spot and prevent card skimming

Skimming devices can come in many forms and are difficult to detect. There are, however, a few things you can do to help avoid becoming a victim.

  • Take a good look at the card reading slot before you use it. If something seems unusual or out of place, don’t use it and report it right away.
  • Pull on the card reader to see if it’s loose. Moving parts are a sign that the reader has been tampered with or a skimming device has been affixed to the existing reader.
  • Look at surrounding card readers. Do they look the same as yours? 
  • Shield the keyboard when entering your PIN on any device to block cameras from seeing the keys you press.
  • Consider paying with your digital wallet. By paying this way, your card never goes in the card reader that may contain a skimmer.
  • Change your debit card PIN periodically.

It’s important to review your account information and statements regularly. Online and Mobile Banking are good ways to review your accounts at any time and as often as you like. Consider setting up alerts on your accounts to help you spot unusual withdrawals.

What if this scam happens to me?

If you find an unfamiliar transaction, or even suspect you may be a victim of card skimming, contact your financial institution or card issuer immediately.


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