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Skimming 101: What to Look for And Be Aware of When Using Your Card

With the increase of card users rising rapidly every day, the quantity and quality of skimming devices has also increased. If you currently use a credit card, debit card, or even an ATM card at a standalone device such as an ATM or gas pump, you should be aware of what to look for and how to verify the device is secure before entering any of your personal information.

Pull on the Card Reader First to Avoid Card Skimming

Simply inserting your card can cause your account to be compromised if a skimming device is secured to the card reader. Before inserting your card into any machine, look for anything out of the ordinary like tape or glue on the machine. You can also pull on the card reader and see if it’s loose. A normal card reader will remain intact with the machine. A loose card reader is a sure sign that the device has been compromised, and you should not enter your card into the device.

Check the Keypad

Once you have verified the card reader is in fact secure, you should also check the keypad. Sometimes Skimmers will place a duplicate keypad over the original in order to obtain PIN numbers. If you begin to type and you notice the keypad feels spongy, a skimmer is probably nearby recording every keystroke with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signal. If you feel that the keypad is not normal, cancel the transaction and find a different device to use. Don’t forget to contact local authorities and let them know of your skimming finding.

Look for Visible Damage to the Receipt Slot 

Believe it or not – Skimmers can also hack your information via the receipt slot. Skimmers have gotten creative with their techniques and learned that most people don’t think to check the receipt slot. A scanner is placed into the receipt slot that records every detail of your transaction. Unfortunately, since this is the last piece of your transaction, most users don’t realize they have been compromised until it is too late.

Stranger Danger

With the increase in skimming devices it is unlikely that you will face a circumstance where a stranger and a device on the machine is used to steal your information. However, in the past, Skimmers installed a box that would hold your card until you type in the correct PIN. An “innocent bystander” behind you might offer to help you and tell you to enter your PIN a couple more times. This innocent bystander then records your PIN and retrieves your card information from the box. Be wary of any strangers hanging out around an ATM, and never enter your PIN with someone else watching.

Visit High-Traffic Areas to Avoid Scams 

An ATM on a street might be more likely to have a skimming device placed on it than an ATM in a busy gas station. The same theory applies to self-service gas pumps. Less visited locations that are empty at night are more likely to be targeted by Skimmers. Scams can happen at any machine, but they are least likely to occur in high-traffic areas.


Card Reader scams are becoming less common as machines are updated and secured with the latest anti-theft technology. Most ATMs and Gas Stations now have security cameras installed that can zoom in on the device and record the Skimmer while they are installing hacking devices. Regardless of what machine you use, take a few extra seconds and inspect the machine using the tips listed above to prevent card information theft.


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