Have you heard of skimming? It occurs when crooks place devices on gas pumps and ATMs to “skim” account information stored on debit cards. Once the data is skimmed, it’s used to empty out the person’s bank account. Skimming is on the rise across the country and it’s important that you be on the lookout.
Skimming devices can be very sophisticated, even transmitting stolen data in an encrypted text message so that the crook can avoid having to retrieve the device. Skimmers can also be difficult for consumers to detect.
To protect yourself from skimming, it’s important that you follow these steps:
- Always keep your card in sight, whether you are paying at a restaurant, gas station, or elsewhere. Crooks are quick and it takes just a second to slot your card into one of their skimming devices.
- Be especially vigilant at gas pumps. Before you insert your card, make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary.
- Before you insert your card in an ATM, put your hand on the slot and wiggle it. ATMs without skimmers will not wiggle at all. If there is a skimmer, the slot will seem loose and may even pop off.
- Always place your free hand over the hand you’re using to enter your PIN number so that people or hidden cameras can’t get your information.
- Monitor receipts and check your statements to make sure everything matches up. Some crooks only take small amounts hoping that card holders won’t notice.
If you suspect tampering of an ATM, gas pump or other self-pay terminal, notify the store personnel ASAP. Your attentiveness can go a long way in putting an end to skimming.