Card skimmers are becoming an ever present threat in our local communities. They are a nuisance that only take a moment to install but can have devastating effects on your bank account.
A card skimmer is a piece of equipment that looks just like a typical card reader but is made to steal your credit or debit card information when it is swiped. Thieves then recover the device and use the recorded information to steal your card information. It fits over a normal card reader and is hard to detect by just looking at it, but can have slight variation in color or design.
Most skimmers are placed onto gas pump terminals or ATMs where thieves know they will get the most use. Police are cracking down on the use of these devices but below are five tips to help protect you from card skimmers.
Inspect the card reader and the area near the PIN Pad
Take a close look to see if the terminal looks odd. If you nudge the pin pad or card reader and it comes loose or off completely, let an attendant or the machine owner know.
Look at the other card terminals, to make sure it doesn’t look different
Be observant of your surroundings. Take a look at the other card readers and note any differences. Some gas pumps and ATMs will have a picture posted of what the terminal should look like. If you see a difference let someone know.
Trust your instincts. Use a different pump or ATM if you’re not sure
If you don’t feel that the terminal you are using is legitimate then trust your gut and use another pump.
Try not to use your PIN number at the pump
It’s safer to enter “credit” and not use your PIN number. This way your PIN cannot be recorded and you have a higher likelihood of catching the purchase before it can do much harm to you.
Watch your accounts
As a common practice you should always monitor your accounts for any unusual activity. If you see anything unusual call your financial institution right away.
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