More and more occurrences of skimming have been arising in the last decade. Victims of this offense are typically caught unaware, because their debit cards are still in their possession. However, the next time they check their balances they realize vast amounts of fraudulent activity have occurred.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is skimming?
The simple definition is that it is a type of credit card theft where a person uses a small device to steal your credit or debit card information in an otherwise legitimate transaction. In most cases, you will not even realize the device is even there. Once you swipe your card, the thief is able to capture all of the details on the card’s magnetic strip. The thief then utilizes this data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card.
Where does something like this happen?
The most common places this could happen are at the gas pump, the ATM machine, a restaurant or bar, department stores, and call centers.
Gas stations are amongst the most popular spots for thieves to install a skimming device. Particularly because there are multiple card slots, all sitting outdoors, which are not always monitored by an attendant. A small electronic reader will be installed on an existing reader and the thieves return later to detach it and extract credit card information.
ATM machine skimming happens similarly to gas pumps. In addition, a miniature and undetectable camera device is placed near the ATM machine to record you typing in your PIN number.
Most of the time employees at restaurants and bars are honest, hardworking people. Keep your eyes open, because there are instances where an employee could steal your credit card information utilizing a small mobile device. If you feel unsure in a situation, simply close out a tab after each drink order, or use cash. Unless you know the employee personally it’s important to pat attention to what they are doing once they walk away with your card.
Department stores are similar to restaurants and bars because the clerk doesn’t leave your sight during transactions. If you notice that they are spending too much time studying your card, they may be trying to remember your number.
If you order products over the phone, be aware of foreign call centers where the operators are paid very low. This puts you in a higher risk that the operator will use your credit card number for their own personal use.
How to Avoid Being Caught in a Skimming Incident
There isn’t an easy way to detect these devices, but it is good to know what to look for. Simply using your debit or credit card can put you at risk. It’s important to keep a close eye on your credit and bank transactions to make sure there is no fraudulent activity happening. Log on to your accounts at least once a week and if you do notice any suspicious activity, report it right away.
It’s these types of scams that can ultimately effect your credit score. Contact Vulling’s Law to learn more.