What is a Card Skimmer?
A skimmer is a device employed by a fraudster that is designed to steal a victim’s plastic card information. That information is then used to produce a counterfeit card that can be used to defraud you! Skimmers are still commonly used and are responsible for more than a billion dollars in fraud per year!
Skimmers can take many forms and have become astonishingly sophisticated in recent years. Here are some examples:
Wait… Won’t Chip-Based Cards Solve this Problem?
The short answer is “not at first.” Skimmers work by reading the magnetic stripe on your cards, and those stripes aren’t going anywhere for a while. The so-called “mag stripe” is still there for backward compatibility purposes. Until every merchant, ATM, gas pump and POS device are chip compatible, we need the stripe.
How Do I Spot a Skimmer?
- Look for signs of tampering. Is the keyboard too thick? Is there signage or lights, etc. that are partially obstructed by the keyboard or card reader?
- Are there areas around the keyboard or card reader that are a different material or color?
- Look for pinhole cameras designed to capture the PIN as it is entered.
- Don’t be afraid to grab/wiggle things on an ATM or gas pump before you use it, particularly the keyboard and card reader. If they look loose or like they could be easily pried off, they are probably fake.
How Do Avoid this kind of Fraud?
- Always carefully inspect the gas pump or ATM before using it. If there are multiple devices, look for differences between them.
- Don’t let your card leave your sight if you can help it. Any time a server or someone takes your card out of your sight, you are at risk of being skimmed.
- Minimize ATM use. If you need cash, take out enough so that you don’t have to keep going back.
- Avoid using sketchy looking, hidden or poorly lit ATMs altogether.
- Cover the keypad with your other hand when entering your PIN.
- Use our Mobile Banking and MobiMoney apps to monitor your account closely and report suspicious transactions to our Call Center at 816-504-2800 as soon as possible. For more information, visit us at https://www.publicsafetycu.org.