Beware Credit Card SkimmingNovember 22, 2010 - 8:39 am
There are several types of credit card fraud. Some involve theft of your credit card, some thieves apply for a credit card in your name, or the thief can reroute your mail to another address. These types of fraud are easier to detect. Credit card skimming is a type of credit card theft that happens without you ever know it. Because credit card skimming allows the thief to steal your credit card information without stealing your credit card, the crime can often go undetected for weeks, months, or even years.
How Credit Card Skimming Works
A credit card skimmer is a small handheld device that captures and stores your credit card information when your credit card is swiped through it. Credit card skimming most often takes place in normal, otherwise innocent, transactions.
Restaurant waiters have been known to swipe credit cards through a skimmer when you’re paying for your dinner.
Credit card skimmers are sometimes placed in ATMs or gas station pumps and capture your information when you swipe your credit card to withdraw cash or prepay for gas. In these cases, there’s often a hidden camera that records you pushing your PIN. Sometimes the ATM has a keypad overlay, instead of a camera, that captures your PIN.
Credit card skimming is a sneaky. There have been reports of skimming devices with Bluetooth capabilities, which allows someone to retrieve all the stored credit card numbers without actually touching the device.
People who skim your credit card number often work as part of a credit card skimming ring. These individual, low-level skimmers may not know they’re part of a bigger operation. They’re offered a certain amount of money for every credit card number they steal.
Can You Detect Credit Card Skimming?
Credit card skimming is so difficult to detect because your credit card is still in your possession. You don’t know you should be looking out for unauthorized credit card charges. Unless you thoroughly review your credit card statement each month, you may not realize someone’s using your credit card number. Thieves don’t always make large purchases with stolen credit card numbers. Sometimes they a lot of money by charging a small amount to hundreds or thousands of credit card numbers.
The only way you can prevent credit card skimming is to avoid using a credit card all together. Even debit cards can be skimmed, so you’d have to put that away too if you want to completely eliminate your risk.
You can detect instances of credit card skimming by watching your credit card and bank statements. If you see any unauthorized charge, even if it’s for a dollar or a penny, report that charge to your bank immediately. Often, skimmers put through a small charge to make sure your credit card is active before they hit you with a bigger charge.
The sooner you report unauthorized charges the better it is for you. With credit cards, you won’t be liable for any unauthorized charges as long as you have your credit card in your possession. Normally, you’d only have 60 days to report fraudulent charges from a lost or stolen credit card. On the other hand, if it’s your debit card number that’s being misused, you must report the misuse to your bank no more than 60 days after the bank statement containing the skimming charges was mailed.