You’ve probably gotten “that call” as so many of us have. You know the one…
The call from your bank or credit card company asking you about some charges on your account that you have no idea about.
You start to panic a little bit thinking about someone else having access to your hard-earned money. Then your mind races thinking back to where you have been and where your card numbers could have gotten stolen. A skimmer might be the culprit.
WHAT IS A SKIMMER
A skimmer is a device added to a card reader to help scammers steal your card information and your money. Skimmers are usually found on card readers at gas pumps and stand-alone ATMs, but scammers get more creative every day and can put them on about any swipe card reader. Once you swipe your card, the skimmer takes the card number, expiration date, and the credit card holder’s name and sends it to the scammer to make purchases online or duplicate the card for point-of-sale transactions.
HOW TO SPOT A SKIMMER
Skimmers are designed to look just like the card reader itself to trick customers. Since they fit right over the original credit card reader, they need to be the same size, and color and work the same way. For these reasons, it can be difficult to know if there is a skimmer. However, there are things to look for. Since skimmers fit over the card reader, they are usually loose. A good way to test is if you can wiggle the card reader, it is probably a skimmer. If you are at a gas station, look around at the other pumps and make sure the card reader looks the same as the other pumps. Gas stations also put stickers on the side of their card readers and if tampered with the sticker will say “VOID”.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SPOT ONE
If you spot a skimmer do not swipe your card! If you are at a gas station, let the employees know so they can take the pump out of commission and inform the police. For ATMs, call the bank that services the ATM and let them know. This will not only save you but countless other people who would have used that ATM.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
It isn’t always possible to know if there is a skimmer, but you can help yourself by following these guidelines:
- Look before you swipe to make sure everything looks normal.
- If you are unsure, ask an employee, go somewhere else, or pay another way.
- Always cover the keypad with your hand when you are entering your PIN in case there are cameras around.
- Use mobile or online banking to track your purchases and inform your bank if you find something suspicious.
- If your card has a chip in it, make sure you are using the chip instead of swiping as the chip is more secure than the magnetic strip.
- Use an app such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay so that you don’t even have to physically use your card.
IF YOU THINK YOUR CARD HAS BEEN COMPROMISED
If you believe you have been the victim of a skimmer or you find fraudulent transactions on your account, call your bank and shut down your card immediately. Work with your bank to file a dispute to help get your money back. They will also order a new card for you with new card numbers.
Every day, scammers think of new ways to steal card information. Being informed is the best way to protect yourself and your money. When in doubt, feel free to reach out to GSB and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!