Watch Out for Card Skimmers

Over the past few years, card security has become a top concern. The recent rise of credit card skimming has drawn the public's interest, prompting questions about these devices and what they are capable of. Here are all the details about credit card skimming and what new tactics you need to be on the lookout for.

What are Card Skimmers?

A skimming device is attached over or inside a card reader. The gadget copies credit or debit card information, such as the number, expiration date, and the CVV. These devices are most commonly found at ATMs and gas station pumps.

Someone simply needs to slide their credit or debit card into a normal reader, and this device skims and saves the information. The skimmer is then collected by the fraudster and the stolen card information is used to make large purchases.

What do Credit Card Skimmers Look Like?

Identifying a card skimmer can be tough, as they can look exactly like a normal card reader and often go undetected. Here are some practical ways you can identify a card skimmer.

  1. Broken security seal - Some gas station pumps will have a security seal sticker on their card reader. Check to see if the seal has been broken to determine if there is a card skimmer on the reader.
  2. Scratches near the card reader - If there is a card skimmer, there may be scratches near or on the card reader.
  3. Bulky or out of place card reader - Take note of the card reader that you are using. Does it look out of place? Too big? Or odd? Most card skimmers are placed on top of the normal reader. Gently rock the card reader side to side to see if a skimmer has been fitted externally over the reader.
  4. Glue residue near the card reader - Some fraudsters use glue to attach a card skimmer to the original reader. If you see glue residue on or near the card reader, proceed with caution. You may wish to move along to another option.

Protecting Your Credit or Debit Card Against Card Skimming

There are steps you can take to safeguard your information, here are some details!

Be Picky About Which ATMs and Gas Stations You Use

While maybe a little inconvenient, this step is important. Try to use ATMs and gas pumps that you are familiar with and stick to them. This will help you easily recognize if a card reader looks strange, and avoid your information being stolen.

Use Alternative Options - Digital Wallets

Digital Wallets, such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, offer another security measure. They utilize a one-time use card number when you make a purchase, preventing a fraudster from stealing your card information.

The best part? Setting up a Digital Wallet is simple, easy and free. You can add your debit card and it will be ready the next time you make a purchase.

Contactless Cards

Similar to Digital Wallets, contactless debit cards create a one-time code for each transaction. Because you TAP to pay, you never have to insert your card into a chip reader where a skimmer could be hiding. Click here to learn more about contactless cards.

Monitor Your Bank Account

You are the first line of defense against fraudsters. Many people miss signs of fraud simply because they do not regularly check their bank account statements. Make a point to review your account statements to ensure there are no suspicious purchases.

Newer Skimming Tactics

Tourist Areas

Be on the lookout for credit card skimmers as you travel this summer. The FBI has warned travelers that many reports of card skimming take place in tourist areas or attractions. ATMs in airports, convenience stores and hotel lobbies are more common targets, so be alert.

Weekend Targeting

This is a new tactic. Fraudsters will target ATMs placed outside of businesses and will add a skimmer on the card reader of the ATM just overnight or over the weekend. The scammers come back before business hours to collect the reader and personal information. So, if you decide to use an ATM during non-business hours, make sure to double-check the card reader to ensure there is no skimmer.

What to do if Your Card Gets Skimmed

If you believe that your information has been stolen due to card skimming, take immediate action.

  1. Contact your financial institution and let them know that the card information has been compromised. They will be able to help you get a new debit card, as well as be on the lookout for fraudulent charges.
  2. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission. They provide step-by-step action items for you to follow to protect your information. This not only helps you, but it also helps other community members gain awareness.

In today's world, it is essential to take steps to safeguard your personal and financial information. This is where partnering with the right bank comes into play. Keeping your information secure really is a team effort, and at Blackhawk Bank, we are want to partner with local community members. Our bankers know what to look out for and will help you find solutions that meet your specific needs. Click here to learn more and to contact a banker today!


Jessica Hendon

VP Physical & Information Security

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