Know what to look for and how to protect yourself and your account!
1. Inspect The Card Reader And The Area Near The PIN Pad
Many banks and merchants realize that skimming is on the rise and will often post a picture of what the real device is supposed to look like so you will see that there is something attached that is not supposed to be there if a skimmer is present. Of course, a card skimmer could put a fake picture over the real picture so this isn’t a fail-safe way to spot a skimmer.
Some skimmers are hard to see. Look at this example of a card skimmer. This is what you need to look for.
Most skimming devices are designed to be temporarily affixed to the ATM or gas pump so they can be easily retrieved by the bad guys once they’ve collected a batch of cardholder data. If you think the scanning device doesn’t look like it matches the machine’s color and style, it might be a skimmer.
2. Look At Other Nearby Gas Pumps or ATM Card Readers to See if They Match The One You Are Using.
Unless skimmers are running a large operation, they probably are only skimming at one gas pump at a time at the station you are using. Look at the pump next to yours to see if the card reader and setup look different. If they do then you might have just spotted a skimmer.
3. Trust Your Instincts. If in Doubt, Use Another Pump or ATM Somewhere Else.
Our brains are excellent at recognizing things that seem out of place. If you get a sense that something looks off about the ATM you are about to use, you might be better off using one that you feel more comfortable with.
4. Avoid Using Your PIN Number at the Gas Pump.
When you pay at the pump with your debit/credit card, you usually have the option to use it as a credit or a debit card. It’s best to choose the credit option that allows you to avoid entering your PIN in sight of a Card Skimmer camera. Even if there is not a card skimmer camera in sight, someone could be watching you enter your PIN and could subsequently mug you and take your card to the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash.
When you use it as a credit card, you usually only have to enter your billing ZIP code as verification which is much safer than putting in your PIN.
5. When in doubt, go inside and pay at the cashier.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Accounts
If you suspect that you might have had your card skimmed. Keep an eye on your account balance and report any suspicious activity immediately.