Here’s all you need to know about card skimming and ways to protect yourself from it.
The world is moving ahead at break-neck speed and the only way to catch up is by taking the ‘instant’ route. From the food we eat to the way we manage our finances, everything needs to have a short waiting period. This phenomenon was partly responsible for the widespread adoption of Debit Cards and Credit Cards. It’s so much easier to carry a little piece of plastic than wads of money.
However, there is one catch. Though plastic money offers much more security, in the form of PINs and passwords, than cash, it can still be compromised if proper care is not taken. While on the one hand, banks and financial institutions are doing everything in their power to introduce safety measures, fraudsters and hackers are doing all they can to compromise the same.
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What Is Skimming?
One sly trick frequently used by scammers is ‘skimming’. Skimming involves the use of a small electronic device, known as a ‘skimmer’, to steal the card details of a person. Skimmers are unassuming devices usually placed in POS portals, ATMs, and other devices where you might swipe your Credit Card or Debit Card. When a card is inserted into a compromised device, the skimmer steals all the information from the magnetic strip of the card such as the card number, name of the card holder, validity date and PIN.
This information can be used to make unauthorised shopping transactions online or to make a duplicate card that can be used just like the original. In many cases, people participating in skimming also install hidden cameras that captures the video of individuals punching in their PINs.
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Is there anything you can do to avoid skimming?
Yes, there is. We cannot emphasise enough the need to exercise care when using your card. A few things you can do are, make sure that your Debit Card or Credit Card is always swiped in your presence and nobody is looking when you punch in the PIN. You can even cup the key with your other hand to avoid cameras catching the movement of your fingers. But the safest bet is to move to a chip-and-PIN Credit Card. These cards offer a double layer of security and aren’t as easy to break into as your old-fashioned non-chip cards.
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Till then, here are some ways to help identify a Credit Card skimmer
It’s not easy to identify a skimmer just by looking at an ATM or POS machine since it is seamlessly blended into the device. But, it has been noticed that skimmers are mainly found at swipe machines in petrol pumps and at less frequented ATMs. You can also spend time studying the look and feel of a regular Credit Card reader so that when you spot one that looks slightly different from the norm, you know you better than to swipe your card and risk losing your data and precious pennies. Some common identifiers are:
An extended panel or movable parts in a Credit Card reader
Credit Card readers are made in such a way that a card fits inside them snugly. If you feel the card reader has an extension or a part of the machine looks attached rather than being one single piece then it might be better to skip swiping your card. If you are unsure, you can go to nearby shops and check their card readers. If the one you spotted looks out of the ordinary, then it probably is. Moreover, Credit Card readers are usually made as one single piece. If you see movable parts then it’s absolutely fine to be suspicious.
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Don’t visit stray petrol pumps or ATMs
Being loyal pays. Since cases of skimming primarily occur at petrol pumps and infrequently used ATMs, avoid them. Always go to a trusted petrol pump even if you have to bear the queue. Also, use ATMs that are in prime locations with a bank installed security camera and a guard. If you run into an emergency where you have to visit ATMs and petrol pumps that are not your preferred choice then change your ATM PIN immediately.
Thicker PIN pads
The easiest access to somebody else’s card is via the PIN number. Thieves may sometimes line the PIN pad with an underlying device that will capture the PIN. If the PIN pad feels thicker than usual or if you feel it could be covered with an extra layer of padding below then grab your card and make your way out.
Be careful about where you shop
Every time you are out shopping, be careful about where your swipe your card. Avoid shady or dingy shops. Always use your cards in shops that are well-known and have a good brand/reputation.
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What to do if you spot fraudulent charges on your Credit Card statement
If you suspect that your card details have been stolen or an authorised transaction has taken place, then first inform the bank. Banks will block your card immediately and start an investigation. Many banks even offer to cover the losses in case of an unauthorised transactions (up to a certain limit). But the first step has to be taken by you. Do not delay when it comes to informing the bank.
That was all about skimming. If you want to continue getting the benefits of a Credit Card along with all the safety precautions then get yourself a chip-and-PIN card. We have a host of card offers you can pick from.