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

August 5, 2016

What is Card Skimming?

Card 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.

The details copied from your card are then copied onto a blank debit or credit card, creating an exact duplicate or clone.

How do skimming devices work?

A card skimmer 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 PIN. 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 PIN 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.

Recent News Articles on Skimming

Newsday Nassau Cops Warn of Skimming Devices on ATMs

What is TFCU doing to protect your account from skimming?

TFCU takes card skimming very seriously by using various techniques and resources to combat and minimize losses due to skimming.

TFCU, as well as our card processor, monitor and analyze card transactions for suspicious activity. When we detect suspicious activity, we will react appropriately and make contact with you.  TFCU's ATMs are inspected for tampering and skimmers on a regular basis.

TFCU also monitors fraud trends and is active with fraud associations ensuring that we are aware of the latest developments.

What can you do?

  • Protect your PIN: Always use your hand to shield your PIN as you enter it.
  • 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.
  • 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 Keypad: Does it appear to have an overlay over the real keyboard?
  • 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.
  • If you suspect that a skimmer is affixed to a card reader, call the police and report it.
  • Review your account activity and statements. Report fraud immediately.

For more information, click here.

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