They May Be Copying Your Card Number and PIN and Be Taking Your Photo
Card skimming is the copying of information from the magnetic strip on the back of a credit or debit card.
Scammers can skim cards by surreptitiously putting a discreet attachment on an automatic teller machine (ATM) ATM, electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS, an ATM alternative widely deployed in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania) machine or even a gasoline pump. This attachment reads your card number and PIN and may also contain a camera, which provides the scammers with your photo, which they will use to commit identity theft.
Once your card is skimmed, scammers can create copies of it, charge purchases to your account and receive cash advances that will be debited to your account.
The skimming attachments are not easily recognizable by consumers. They are just pieces of plastic placed over the normal card slot, but inside them is a chip that does all the work. Another option that scammers can use is an ersatz keypad that sits right on top of the regular one. When you type in your PIN, therefore, it’s read by both the fraudulent and real devices.
When the scammers who place them feel like it they will return to the machines and retrieve their skimmers, along with the information they have gathered, and replace them with new ones. More advanced skimmers are equipped with wireless devices that transmit your credit or debit card information directly to the scammer. In this way they reduce the need to return to the scene of the crime and the chance of ever being caught.
There are also small hand-held skimmers known to be used by anyone, from waiters in elegant restaurants to attendants at car washes, who hide them in their pockets and use them copy your credit or debit card information en route to the cash register.
The U.S. Secret Service (whose responsibilities include safeguarding the national financial system) claims that ATM skimming is now the fastest-growing electronic fraud risk for banks. Recognizing the danger, Visa and Mastercard, therefore, have set a deadline of October 2020 for all U.S. gasoline pumps to be upgrades with chip card readers, at an estimated cost to the industry of at least $4 billion. It will add an additional layer of sophisticated fraud protection, however, because such chip-enabled terminals communicate with the microchips embedded in credit and debit cards by processing the cardholder’s identity and SIM through a unique. Since this code is unique, it is presumed to be impossible to duplicate or copy.
How to Avoid Credit and Debit Card Skimming
Experts in information technology security all agree on certain basic steps:
- As much as it is possible, use an ATM inside a bank or bank lobby rather than one on the street. Scammers prefer to target the later because there is much less of a chance of their tampering being caught on a surveillance video.
- Cover the ATM keypad when entering the PIN number, just in case scammers have installed a hidden camera. Certain ATMs are even equipped with a cover over the keypad to ensure privacy when entering your code.
- If the keypad looks wobbly or if it protrudes more than normal, choose another ATM. If the card reader looks like it was attached like a glove onto an existing device, choose another ATM. If a sticker has been placed on the ATM that says “Only Use This Machine” or something similar, choose another ATM. In short, when in doubt, always choose another ATM.
- If a stranger hanging around the ATM asks if he can assist, especially by keying in your PIN, decline and consider reporting the incident to the bank.
- Never take your eyes off your credit card after you hand it to someone to process a charge.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a credit card skimming scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.