Stay Safe from Card Skimming Scams

Card skimming scams can occur almost anywhere you use your debit or credit cards and is a form of fraud that has recently regained prevalence in Central New York, impacting point-of-sale devices in stores, gas pumps, and sometimes ATMs.

Card skimming scams happen when the machine processing your card transaction also swipes your card through a tool that collects and stores card information to later download the data for others to make fraudulent cards for future purchases.

Stay safe from this type of debit and credit fraud by educating yourself on what to look for when swiping your physical cards.

What is a skimmer?

A skimmer is a small card reading device that takes the place of a traditional card reader and scans the information held within the magnetic strip on a debit or credit card, not the chip. Card skimming is a fast and easy tactic criminals can implement, but there are a few ways that you can spot them and keep your information safe.

How can you spot a skimmer?

Always use caution when using your debit or credit card. Check the payment processor for anything that looks out of place, such as a newer keypad on an older machine or a hard-to-use slot for your card. Don’t forget to cover the keypad with your hand when inputting your PIN.

Check the security tape covering the seam between the card reader and the pump at a gas station. A broken seal often signifies a breach to the pump card reader. If you notice this, pay inside, and inform the gas station attendant.

How can you protect yourself?

Don’t swipe your card. Pay with your credit or debit card chip (EMV), tap to pay, or Apple or Samsung pay when possible. These methods encrypt the personal information on your card (card number, CVV, PIN, etc.) and protect data from being stored if a skimmer is present.

Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, skimming can occur anytime your debit or credit card leaves your direct possession. If you hand your card to someone, keep a close eye on it. When you receive your card back, ensure it’s yours.

Also, pay attention to how your card fits into the point-of-sale unit. Difficulty could indicate a skimmer inside. Loose seams or connections within the device are potential signs of tampering.

Use eAlerts and other resources to stay on top of your finances. Monitor your credit card bills and account balances. If something isn’t right, contact your financial institution right away. Also, sign up for eAlerts or fraud alerts for your debit and credit cards when possible. These can trigger real-time alerts when something doesn’t seem right.

At Northern, we’re committed to your peace of mind and account security are our top priority. If you think you’ve been impacted by a card skimming scam, have questions, or want to learn more about EZShield Identity Protection, call or text 315.782.0155, connect with us via Live Chat or Video Banking, or stop into any relationship center.