Credit card skimming is the process of stealing credit card information. It’s one of the most common ways to steal your identity and make a large amount of money quickly. Criminals are clever and will find places that allow them to secretly swipe someone else’s credit cards, like ATMs and gas pumps, but often it’s easier and quicker for them to simply copy down your PIN number from your current credit and debit cards. Many people may have not heard about this crime, but if you’re wondering how it works and what you can do to protect yourself, follow along with this article.
Credit card skimming is the unauthorized use of a credit card’s magnetic strip to get access to your bank account. It can be done by hacking unsecured Internet connections or breaking through a bank’s firewall, but instead, it involves using technology installed on ATMs and gas pumps.
If a criminal steals your information, they’ll use it to make purchases without your knowledge. Credit card skimming can happen when criminals use pens or devices that look like camera lenses to secretly swipe data from the magnetic strip on the back of the cards (the info stored on the magnetic strip can’t be seen by regular cameras). They’ll then destroy what they stole so there won’t be any evidence left behind.
Credit card skimming works like this: criminals will either get you to enter your credit card information manually or they’ll use a hidden camera and steal your card information. They’ll then sell the stolen credit cards to other criminals who will use them for their own gain, like purchasing expensive items for themselves or getting cash back. With the help of credit and debit cards, these thieves can make quick money by making large purchases with stolen credit cards.
The most common way that people get their identity stolen is through a simple scam called “over-the-phone sales.” In this scam, someone calls you from outside of your area code and tells you that they’re from Microsoft, Google, or Apple – etc. They tell you that your computer has been hacked and there’s something on it that you need to fix immediately. You agree to pay hundreds of dollars for a service when in reality, it’s just an attempt by a criminal on the phone to steal your identity via credit card information.
There are a few ways to spot skimming. If you’re at an ATM with your credit card, look for anything that looks unusual. Do you see other people around the ATM? Are the people in line with you looking nervous? Do the people near the ATM seem out of place – like they do not belong there?
If you’re at a gas pump, look for people who are running from one pump to another quickly and also look for anyone that is holding a cloned receipt. Look for someone who is trying to make it as if they are just pumping gas and paying for it but then running off.
You might have to be more attentive when you dine out at a restaurant. Usually, your card may be taken from your sight after the server swipes it. If this happens, always make sure you enable notifications on your smartphone for all purchases.
You should always monitor any unusual transactions made with your credit or debit cards and report them if necessary.
It can be difficult to spot these incidents when they first happen, but by paying attention, you’ll be able to avoid them in the future and possibly save someone else.
It’s not easy to stop credit card skimming, but you can take some steps to make it much harder for someone to steal your identity. You should always check your credit and debit cards when they arrive in the mail before using them. If you are worried about credit card skimming, you should also monitor your bank account regularly and make sure that none of your money goes missing. You should carry a photocopy of your driver’s license or passport with you so that if someone tries to steal your identity, they won’t be able to use it.
If your identity is stolen and you realize it, the best thing to do is to contact your credit card company. They should be able to help you take steps in order to recover your identity. In many cases, they will be able to use your existing cards and accounts again. Here’s information to the credit bureaus:
- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111; Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services.
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742; Experian.com/help.
- TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872; TransUnion.com/credit-help.
Another option would be to close down or freeze the account that was used in order to protect your identity further.
You may want to change your number as well if you don’t want people calling you a different name than the one on your driver’s license.
You could also get a prepaid debit card with options to lock transactions in order to avoid having any of these cards compromised again.