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Cardholders Beware: Credit Card Skimming

July 5, 2018 | By Louis Tully

We use credit cards to pay for just about everything these days. That’s why credit card skimming has become such a big problem in our country. Skimming is a form of credit card theft that steals cardholder’s information via a small electronic device known as a ‘skimmer’. These devices are typically well-hidden in real credit card scanners that are otherwise used for real, legitimate transactions. But swipe your card at a gas pump where there’s a skimmer in place and all your account information suddenly falls into the wrong hands. If you’re on this website looking for an installment loan lender, credit card theft is probably the last thing you need on your hands. Here are the main bullet points to credit card skimming and how to avoid it:

How credit card skimming works

To put it simply, credit skimming is a sneaky way to steal people’s credit card info without them realizing they’ve been victimized until it’s too late. Reports of credit skimming are everywhere. Skimming devices have been found at gas pumps, ATM machines and even retail and even grocery stores. As mentioned above, a skimmer is a little card reader that steals your information the second your card is swiped on it. Thieves have been known to install these reads in place of legitimate ones in order to steal cardholder’s information without them even knowing about it. Cardholders don’t even know they’ve been stolen from until they notice a charge on their account that they didn’t make, their card has declined or they’ve received a withdrawal notice.

How to spot a skimmer

Credit card skimming devices are a designed to look exactly like the real thing. That’s why most people don’t realize their information has been compromised until it’s too late. Unless you’re actively looking for a skimmer, you probably won’t notice some of these red flags:

  • The credit card reader sticks out of the panel
  • The reader itself moves or feels loose
  • The buttons on the key pinpad are thicker and harder to press than normal

If you’re looking out for these red flags, you should be able to avoid becoming a victim of credit theft. If you’re not sure whether to trust the card reader, you can always use cash.

How to prevent skimming

Thankfully, just about every bank out there is well aware of the credit card skimming problem and won’t hesitate to help their customers if they’ve been victimized. Plus, when it comes to credit card fraud, banks are a lot better at detecting it than you think. If a fraudulent purchase has been made on your account, your bank won’t hesitate to notify you immediately. Preventing these skimming incidents is a matter of watching where you shop, dine, pump gas, etc. Also, avoiding third-party ATMs is strongly encouraged.

How to report it

Knowing how to report credit card skimming is the best way to prevent it altogether. If you think you’ve been a victim of credit card skimming, call the number on the bank of your card to report it. The sooner you call, the more protected you’ll be. Try to provide as much detail as you can about where you used your card recently and what you used it for. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission if you believe a skimmer was the cause your card information being stolen.