Your payment card information can be “skimmed” by illegal electronic card readers at ATM’s, pay at the pump gas stations or point of sale terminals in stores and restaurants.
In the case of ATM’s and pay at the pump gas stations, criminals will place a false front on a legitimate ATM or gas pump. This fake will include a screen, touch pad and reader. After an unsuspecting customer swipes their card the screen will flash an “out of service” message, but the damage has been done since the card user’s information was stolen the moment their card passed through the card reader.
Fraudulent skimmers can be connected to a phone line between the phone jack and cash register or POS terminals themselves. When a Member makes a card purchase, the card is swiped and a second electronic skimmer captures and stores the information, which can then be manipulated for a variety of illegal purposes.
One of the most common methods of skimming takes place in bars and restaurants. Unscrupulous servers will collect your card to settle your bill, but along with swiping it through the businesses payment terminal, they also pass it through a hand held skimmer conveniently carried in their pocket.
Awareness is the key to protecting yourself from becoming the victim of skimming:
- Be wary of generic ATM machines.
- If something looks odd about an ATM or gas pump terminal, don’t use it.
- If a number of ATM’s or payment terminals are out of service, be wary of the any machine still functioning. Criminals will often time disable legitimate machines hoping you’ll use the one they’ve set up with a skimmer.
- Keep an eye on your card after you turn it over for payment.
- Protect you PIN! Never give your information to anyone. Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
- Check your account statement as soon as you receive it and report any unusual or unauthorized activity immediately.