The evolution of credit card skimmers, and how to protect yourself
September 2, 2014 10:53 AM Subscribe
Credit card skimming
posted by filthy light thief (43 comments total)
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was something of a myth in the early 2000s, until someone was caught skimming in 2002 in San Mateo, California
. The next year, a skimmer was found on an ATM in a New York deli
, and skimmers have been improving every year, following additional protective measures on a range of credit card reading devices, as detailed in Gizmodo's article on the evolution of skimmers
For more information, and the source of a number of examples in the Gizmodo article, check Krebs on Security for his write-ups on ATM Skimmers
, and the ATM skimmers tag
on his site. Consumerist also has a number of posts about ATM skimmers
. To make the world of financial transactions seem even less secure, skimming can be done without hardware, if you have direct access to customers' transaction information for phone orders
To protect yourself, Tom's Guide has put together an article How to Spot (and Stop) ATM Skimmers
, with five key points:
- Look around the ATM vestibule for places where a scammer could hide a tiny camera, such as a brochure rack, Krebs said.
- Take a close look at the keypad. Try to see if there is a fake overlay on top of it. Maybe the keypad looks thicker than usual. You probably won't be able to detect the really top-notch PIN-pad overlays, but it doesn't hurt to check.
- Look over the entire ATM for parts that don't match in styling, color or material. Krebs said scammers sometimes place a fascia (a large form-fitting mold) over the business area of the original ATM. The fascia will contain the skimmer and camera.
- Try to jiggle the card reader. If it moves, so should you — to another ATM.
- Cover your hands when you enter your PIN. It's one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself from an ATM scammer's hidden camera.
Also, "it helps to trust your gut," Krebs said. "If you see something that doesn't look right, consider going to another ATM."
Net Security.About.Com adds another couple of points
- Look at other nearby gas pumps or ATMs card readers to see if they match the one you are using, and
- Keep an eye on your account balance and report any suspicious activity immediately.
Credit card fraud in the US might be hindered by forthcoming chip-and-PIN implementation
, a mere 23 years after it was implemented for all of France
(Google books preview). Unfortunately, with some cost-cutting that is bound to happen, such smart cards are only as smart as the payment terminals, and there is tentative proof that some terminals don't randomize the necessary random bit as much as they should.