How to Save Yourself from a Skimmer Scam
In 2016, FICO reported a 70 percent increase in compromised debit cards, due in part to the rise in skimmers. Skimmers are devices thieves attach to card acceptance slots on machines like ATMs, which record information when a card is inserted. With a hidden camera near the keypad to record the card’s PIN number, thieves easily collect all the information they need to steal your money.
ATMs aren’t the only hiding places for skimmers. Gas pumps and self-checkouts at the grocery store are also common targets. This doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of skimmers at every step. Instead, practice these simple precautions:
1. Use secure machines. Thieves can’t use skimmers to steal your information if they can’t install a skimmer on the machine. Stick to ATMs that are in well-lit areas and under surveillance, like the ATM inside your bank. At the gas station, use the pumps that are in full view of the entrance. Or, better yet, go inside and pay for your gas at the register.
2. Tug on the card acceptance slot. Some skimmers are obvious and look like an extra device has been attached to the slot. However, there are many skimmers that look exactly like they’re part of the machine, complete with flashing LED lights. Before you insert your card, tug on the slot a couple times. If the slot comes off or gives way to the pressure of your fingers, inform the nearest manager in charge of the machine immediately.
3. Cover your hand when you input your pin number. Tugging on the card acceptance slot won’t guarantee you’ll find a well-hidden skimmer. Since most skimmers use a hidden camera to record your pin number, simply covering your hand can foil the plot. Granted, some skimmers use PIN pad overlays and not hidden cameras, but these are far less common. Covering your hand is a simple precaution that can save you a lot of future headaches.
Will you look a bit silly doing this? Only if you find addressing the very real threat of skimmers “silly.” KerbsOnSecurity has an incredible wealth of articles about spotting skimmers and avoiding the scam. Make time to read more at krebsonsecurity.com/all-about-skimmers.