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Thieves will always find ways to skim your credit cards but you can do something to prevent it.

‘Ware the Credit Card Skimmer

            Business travelers often rely on their credit and debit cards to make payments and get cash when they need it. Unfortunately, they also tend to be the target of credit card skimmers because they are often distracted when in a foreign country.

            They are also less likely to notice any discrepancies in their bills since they usually buy so much stuff in many different places. If you travel for business, you should be aware of how this scheme works.

How does credit card skimming works?

            Your cards may have never left your wallet, but you’ve still been victimized. Credit card skimming involves the use of a gadget that captures your card information when you buy in a store or withdraw from an ATM machine. A skimmer device “reads” the credit card or debit card owner’s full name, card number, and expiry date from the magnetic stripe. Thieves can then use this information to make purchases, withdraw money, or sell the information to other people. They can also use the information for online purchases, or even open another account using the captured information.

Where it happens?

            In most cases, skimming devices are in the card readers in ATMs, retail stores, restaurants, and gas stations. At ATMs, the thieves also put a device in the keypad or a small camera over it to capture your PIN. In some cases, people handling your credit card may use a separate skimmer device while processing your payment for a legitimate purchase.

How to prevent it?

            The best way to avoid this scam is not to use regular credit or debit cards for transactions. An online account is not vulnerable to skimming and provides the ideal way to access cash anywhere using a prepaid card. Skimmers can still read the prepaid card, but if you just transfer money you intend to withdraw, the thieves will not be able to get anything from you.

            Another way to protect your credit and debit cards from skimming is never to let anyone take it out of your sight. Go right up to the counter and watch the cashier put it into the card reader. The card reader should not have anything sticking out too far over and beyond the machine. If it does, it may be a skimmer. Ask to see the manager if this is the case, and demand to inspect the card reader. If something moves or jiggles, call the authorities.

            If you are paying for gas, do not use the readers at the pump if the security seal is broken or something looks suspicious. Go inside and pay at the counter instead. 

            When withdrawing at an ATM, choose one that’s attached to a bank if possible. Always check if the keypad is unusually moving or seems thicker than normal. If it does, go to another machine. Even if it doesn’t, there might still be miniature camera spying nearby. Cover your hand when keying in your PIN to shield it from a prying camera, just to be on the safe side.

Conclusion

            Credit card skimming is still a big problem anywhere despite the introduction of EMV chips because widespread adoption is slow. You need to be vigilant when using your credit or debit cards anywhere. 

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