Skimming is one of the most widely used methods to commit credit card fraud and identity theft. This malicious practice costs consumers and credit card companies more than $8.5 billion per year, a serious problem that continues to evolve.
To truly help you understand the dangers of skimming, we have provided a few clear cut example of how it may happen:
Skimming in your waiter’s jacket
You kindly hand over your credit or debit card to a friendly waiter in a restaurant. Before taking the card to the official processing terminal, the waiter swipes it through the small magnetic card reader in their jacket pocket. By the end of the night, that friendly waiter downloads the information on your card in its entirety, shipping it to an underground distribution center for the manufacturing of a fraudulent card. After this card has been produced, it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the real one.
That cell phone is stealing your identity
Think twice about swiping twice
Several identity thieves have used the act of skimming in mobile environments as well. Let’s say that a delivery person activates their application while in route to a consumer’s door. Upon routine, the consumer hands the card over, allowing the delivery person to swipe it through the terminal. The skimming application prompts a message stating that there was an error reading the card. The consumer thinks nothing of it when asked to swipe the card again. The truth is that the first swipe actually reads clear and is instantly transmitted to an illegal server. The second swipe runs through the correct application, carrying out a legitimate transaction. The delivery person walks away with a smile as the consumer has no clue of what just occurred.
An askew ATM machine
Imagine this: you walk up to an ATM machine to withdrawal a bit of cash and observe that the card reader looks different. Thinking nothing of it, you insert the debit card, take the money and walk away. Little did you know that an identity thief planted a skimming device into the machine. Equipped with the details of your card, they now have all the information needed to produce thousands of fraudulent ATM cards and clean out your account. Some criminals will even go to the extend of creating fake ATM machines to trap their victims.
How to Avoid Skimming
-keep an eye on suspicious individuals who may be present when using your credit or debit card
-never allow a credit or debit card to be swiped out of your view
-remain aware of unusual devices or card readers attached to an ATM machine