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Card Skimming - What to Look For and What You Can Do

February 12, 2018

Card skimming or ATM Skimming is when a fraudster illegally copies your debit or credit card data from the magnetic strip on your debit or credit card when you use your card. A hidden camera is also setup to capture your P.I.N. as you enter it.

The details copied from your card are then copied onto a blank debit or credit card creating an exact duplicate or clone. That cloned card can then be used by the fraudster to make fraudulent transactions using the P.I.N. captured with the hidden camera.

How do skimming devices work?

A card skimmer scheme has two components:

  1. The Skimmer: A small device that’s generally inserted over the card slot. When you insert your debit or credit card, the skimmer records the data on the magnetic strip of your card. The card passes through the skimmer and enters the legitimate card reader. Your transaction, in most cases, will process as normal but your card data has been copied. Card skimmers are specifically made to duplicate or look similar to the card reader on to which it will be affixed to.
  2. The Camera or Keypad Overlay: A small camera is placed somewhere that it can record both the keypad and your fingers as you enter your P.I.N.. In cases where a small camera is not used, there will be a keyboard overlay fitted on top of the legitimate keypad. The overlay records your P.I.N. as you enter it.

The card skimmer and camera are affixed to an ATM, fuel pump, or other card readers by the fraudster. Both are left on the card reader until the fraudster has enough card details to make cloned cards. The skimmer and camera will then removed and card details are transferred to a computer. At that point, the card details are copied to blank debit or credit cards and used to deplete card holders’ accounts.

What can you do?

  • Shield Your P.I.N.: Always use your hand to shield your P.I.N. as you enter it. ShieldYourPIN - ATM Credit Card skimmer. Shield Cover your PIN
  • Jiggle the Card Reader: If the card reader moves around when you try to jiggle it with your hand, something probably isn’t right. A real card reader is a secure part of the machine and should not move when handled or jiggled. (Photo)
  • Look at the Card Reader: Does anything look a bit out-of-place? Is anything a different color from the rest of the machine? Does it look damaged, imperfect or contain glue or other adhesive substances?
  • Examine the P.I.N. Pad: Does it appear to have an overlay over the real keyboard? (Photos)
  • Check for Cameras: Look for hidden cameras. Look for anything that might have a tiny hole or slot for a camera to be placed, especially if it is aimed at the keyboard. (Photos)
  • Sign the back of your cards: With transactions requiring your signature the merchant can verify the signature on the back of your card.
  • If you suspect that a skimmer is affixed to a card reader, call the police and report it.
  • Make sure your contact info is correct with your financial institutions. They will use it to contact you when they suspect fraud.
  • Sign up for email/sms account activity alerts with your financial institution.
  • Review your account activity and statements. Report fraud immediately.

Always use your hand to shield your P.I.N. as you enter it.
If the fraudsters do not have your P.I.N. they cannot use your cloned card for P.I.N. based transactions.

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