Card Skimming: What to Look for & How to Protect Yourself

Card skimming can be done almost anywhere you use your debit or credit cards and is a form of fraud that is rapidly sweeping the nation, making its way to some gas pumps, ATMs and even point of sale devices in stores.

What is a skimmer?

A skimmer is a card reading device that takes the place of a traditional card reader. It is a small device that scans the information that is 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 number of ways that you can spot them, and keep your information safe.

What can I do to protect myself?

Stay alert. Knowing what to look and feel for can make a big difference.

Ensure your debit and credit cards are chip enabled (EMV), which encrypts the personal information (card number, CVV, PIN etc.) on the card.

Be aware of how the card slides. If your card gets “stuck” or is hard to slide into the machine, there may be a skimmer inside.

Feel for loose connections. Card readers attached directly to the pump should be solid and not move. If it moves, it may mean there is a skimming device hidden on the card slot.

Look for seams. A card reader that has a seam on it is a sign that it may be an extension to the original card reader, which can contain the skimming device.

Below is an example of a visible external skimmer with a seam of the card reader:

Card Skimmers

(Original card reader on the left, external skimming device on the right.)

Gas stations will also have a red security tape covering the seam between the card reader and the physical pump. A broken seal will often signify that the card reader section of the pump has been opened.

Spotting Card Skimmers
Sign up for eAlerts and keep tabs on your account via text, email or both.Top four ways to keep your personal information secure: 

Download our Mobile App  or sign up for Text Banking for on the go account access.

Check your bank statements regularly. eStatements are even safer than paper statements.

– You can find a skimmer with your own cell phone.  When you are near a device you think is suspicious, try “Searching for Bluetooth devices nearby”. Skimmers contain Bluetooth technology to send the stolen information to the criminal, and your phone can pick these signals up. Bluetooth signals with a long name containing letters and numbers can represent a skimming device.

Northern Credit Union is committed to protecting your account and information. If you have any questions regarding fraud protection please contact us.

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