Have you ever looked at your bank account statements and seen a purchase that you are sure you didn’t make? You would remember making that $700 cash withdrawal from your bank, wouldn’t you? Uh oh, it sounds like you may be a victim of credit card fraud.
Credit card skimming is a type of credit card theft where the offender uses a small device in order to steal your account information. The device attaches to a legitimate machine so when you go to swipe or to insert your card, just as you normally would, you swipe through the device instead. Then the skimmer steal details from your debit or credit card’s magnetic strip that thieves can use online with a counterfeit credit card.
Beware next time you get money or out pump gas. Skimmers are often found at ATMs and gas stations. With ATMs, the offender may also place a small camera on the machine so they can record the victim putting in their pin. With your credit card pin and the swipe of the magnetic strip in the device, the crook now has all the information they need to make a fake card and can withdraw from the cardholder’s bank account.
Another possibility is that you may have a crooked waiter or retail worker that may be responsible for the fraud. Think about it. You go out to dinner and when it’s time to pay the bill, you hand your card over to your waiter. They go in the back, swipe your card with a skimmer, and they now have all of your information.
You use your card every day, so what can you do to prevent skimming? The easiest thing you can do is make sure to keep an eye on your account always. If there is unusual activity, you can do something about it sooner rather than later.
One way to prevent being a victim of credit card fraud is to know what a skimmer looks like. Check out this skimming terminal below. You can see that the fraudulent one allows the credit card to go in way further than the one in the safe device.
A skimmer will look longer and wider than the actual terminal in order to fit over it. So, if you are suspicious, look at the size and inspect it. This is a great way to tell if the device is fraudulent.
Sometimes when a skimmer is attached, it will block the buttons below. A regular machine will have buttons that light up and a skimmer usually will not. The buttons on a skimmer will be dull compared to a safe device.
A non-fraudulent device will usually have a green LED light somewhere on the front. If the light is not lit up, be suspicious. This could be another hint that machine you are about to swipe on is not safe to use.
A real machine will have a stylus so you can sign on the screen when a signature is necessary. A fraudulent machine will have a space for a stylus but will leave no room for it to actually fit into the space. If there is no room for the stylus, beware.
Another way to protect yourself is to contact your bank and set limits and limit cash withdrawal amounts. That way if you do get scammed, the criminals won’t be able to withdraw all of your money at once. Better safe than sorry.
When in doubt, call your bank. If you lost your card, see unusual activity or think someone may have skimmed your card, call your bank and put a hold on your account. Always keep track of your account activity and be on guard. Hopefully these tips can help keep you from being a victim.