How to Avoid Credit Card Skimmers

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Credit card scanning at fuel pump.

In an age of massive cybersecurity breaches, instances of identity theft are more common than ever before.

Thankfully, there are more than a few common-sense strategies that you can deploy, which—along with credit and debit card plans that offer robust security measures—stand to diminish the likelihood of your assets being compromised immeasurably.

Use your smartphone

While most of the apps available now are still in test mode, working out a few kinks, it could pay dividends in the future to familiarize yourself with them now, so that you can employ them as soon as humanly possible to protect your hard-earned financial assets.

Explore the protection possibilities of smartphone technology through early-stage apps like Skimmer Scammer, which alerts users to the presence of skimmer devices embedded in fuel pumps in real time (more on this topic in a minute) by using your Bluetooth radio capabilities.

iPhone users stay on the lookout—hopefully there will be similar apps available for you Apple aficionados out there in the very near future!

Stay alert at gas stations

Fuel pumps are especially susceptible to infiltration from would-be identity thieves, since virtually none offer the advanced EMV chip-reading technology of the type you encounter regularly at grocery stores and retail outlets.

If you encounter any of the following suspicious features at your local gas station, discontinue use of the pump immediately, notify the gas station attendant, and go elsewhere to get the fuel you need:

  • Loose keypad – jiggle the keypad to be sure it’s anchored to, and a part of, the pump itself—with the advent of 3D printing technology, identity thieves have been able to produce fake keypads to capture user pin numbers and other vital information
  • Pinhole cameras angled on keypad or card reader – check nooks and crannies around and above the areas where you will enter sensitive information—criminals may have placed lenses there to harvest your card number
  • Protruding or loose card reader – criminals love to install magnetic strip reading devices in the throats of card readers—if you detect anything unusual or out of character with the card reader, discontinue use immediately and notify the gas station attendant

One final reminder: criminals are more likely to install card skimming devices on pumps that are out of sight, or that don’t get much traffic, so stick to oft-visited stations whenever possible.

Be vigilant, wherever and whenever you use your card

We know, we know. It’s a pain, a hassle, an endless source of frustration to have to constantly be on high alert every time you use your debit or credit cards. But the price of economic freedom is constant vigilance.

The good news is, when it comes right down to it, criminals aren’t terribly creative—they’re going to use the same techniques that fuel pump thieves use when they try to steal your information.

That means when you’re at the ATM, or anyplace else where you may use your card, be on the lookout for the same unusual features (usually a sign of skimmer infiltration) mentioned in the section above.

That way both you, and the funds in your bank account, can stay safe and secure. And remember, when you get a Visa credit or debit card with us, you'll have zero-liability coverage in the event that your accounts are compromised--even more incentive to join the SAFE family!