Before you put your debit or credit card into the machine take a closer look. Crooks have been known to place card skimmers on ATMs and gas pumps. Look for evidence of an overlay on the keyboard, hidden camera above the keyboard, mismatched components or something inserted into the reader. Wiggle the reader to see if it appears to have a fake reader over the top. Does the card feel strange when you swipe it? Check the machine for any visible signs of tampering.
Crooks are lazy. Therefore they will attempt to compromise the easiest and less resistant systems. ATMs and gas pumps are mostly secluded and allow the criminals easy access. It can take just a few seconds to install a skimmer.
Some of the newer gas pumps have included mobile payment options, like Apple Pay. This would allow payments without needing to share your credit/debit details during the transaction.
You can also find apps to detect skimmers on Google Play and Apple. But don’t put 100% of your faith that these apps are your ultimate defense.
There are some basic safeguards you can take to avoid card skimmers:
- Choose gas pumps closest to and within sight of the attendants.
- Use gas pumps and ATMs in well-lit and secure locations.
- Look and feel the card reader slot and keyboard, looking for anything loose, mismatched, or overlays.
- Use caution when entering your PIN that no one is looking over your shoulder or filming you.
Make sure to monitor your accounts and financial statements. Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.