Credit Card Skimming: How it Works and How You Can Stay Safe

Credit Card Skimming: How it Works and How You Can Stay Safe

According to the financial company Shazam, credit card fraud via skimmers is one of the biggest threat to consumers in 2018. Victims of credit card skimming are always blindsided by the theft. They notice fraudulent charges or money withdrawn from their account, all while their credit or debit card is still in the safety of their possession. How does this happen?

Credit card skimming is a type of theft that occurs when a thief uses a small device called a skimmer to steal credit card information during a legitimate transaction. When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and saves all of cards the information which is stored on the magnetic strip. The thief then uses the stolen information to make fraudulent charges either online or with a fake credit card.

Where are skimmers located? Often times, they’re placed over the card swipe mechanism on ATMs and gas pumps; however, they can be placed on nearly any type of credit card reader. On ATMs, some thieves place a small, hidden camera which is used to record the consumer entering their PIN.

How do you spot a credit card skimmer?

Unless you’re looking for the device, you may not even notice it is there. They’re designed to blend in seamlessly with the machine they are placed on. Here are a few ways you can detect a credit card skimmer:

  • Look for a credit card skimmer that sticks out past the panel of the ATM or gas pump. Because skimmers are designed to fit over the existing credit card reader, you will notice it protruding outward past the rest of the machine.
  • Look and listen for loose or moving parts when the card reader is jiggled. Moving parts are a sign the card reader has been tampered with or modified.
  • Look for a security seal that has been voided: Gas stations place a security label across the gas pump that lets you know if the panel on the pump has been tampered with.

Thankfully, many financial institutions and credit card issuers are becoming better at detecting fraudulent transactions. They will notify and confirm with you that the transaction is legitimate before processing. In addition, many new types of technology have been developed to prevent this malicious activity. For example, Gilbarco now offers fuel pumps with tamperproof technology. In the event that a thief attempts to place a skimmer, the pump will disable until a technician arrives to service it. All Sioux Valley Coop c-store locations are equipped with this technology.


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