Friday, May 01, 2009

Credit Cards, Skimmers and what you need to know

Today, on TV I saw a report of credit card skimming using a scanner attached to an ATM that occurred here in Denver (NBC Denver (9News) : Skimming device found on bank ATM). Credit Card skimming is the act of extracting the information stored on the black magnetic stripe on the back of your credit and debit cards. The report reminded me of a presentation that I had seen on the Internet a couple of weeks ago that went into this very issue. The presentation is a good read and here is my take away:

  • Be wary of ATMs that are located in unsecured locations (open areas, gas stations, malls, etc.).
  • Be extra careful when you use ATMs late in the night or early in the morning.
  • Before slipping your card into the slot, move your finger over the slot to feel for any loose parts or attachments.
  • While typing in your PIN, use your other hand to cover what your typing. In most cases, the skimmers need to get the information in the magnetic stripe as well as the PIN number to be able to exploit your card. (Though, they could create a duplicate card with the information from your credit card and use it to go on a shopping spree).
  • Finally, sign up for a service like Mint or Wesabe, which allow you to keep track of all the transactions occurring in your bank accounts, this in my opinion is the best way to protect yourself. The earlier you detect any fraudulent activity and report it to your bank and the police, the better you protect yourself from paying for someone else’s shopping spree.

9News report on Credit Card Skimming in Denver

Here is the Credit Card skimming presentation:

Skimmer Presentation

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