Credit Card Skimming – How to stop your credit card from being skimmed

Credit card skimming is yet another way that criminals have found to steal your personal data.

Unlike phishing scams, where you are an active if not completely aware participant, skimming steals your information directly from your credit card. It can happen in stores or restaurants or while you are getting petrol, basically anywhere you would have your card swiped through a reader. The card readers are tampered with so that there is an extra device on them that stores your information. Later this information is retrieved and fake cards are made with your personal data on them. Fairly scary stuff, considering someone could simply make a card and go on a shopping spree. All the while you would not have reported it stolen because the credit card would be safely tucked in your wallet.

How to avoid credit card skimming

  • Keep your card in sight at all times. If a salesperson or waitress takes your card away, especially to more then one location to swipe it you could have been skimmed. While this does not always mean your data has been stolen, it is cause for concern about the possibility.
  • Do not use ATMs or card readers that look as though they have been tampered with or are suspicious to you in any way. Often the credit card skimming device is attached to a regular card reader, follow your instincts and never use one that looks unusual.
  • Watch your credit card statement. Even if you rarely use your credit card it pays to check your statement online every few days. If you have not already signed up for this service from your credit card provider do so right away. Then, you can check for unauthorised charges and report them immediately.
  • Keep all of your credit cards and PIN numbers in a secure place and never share your PIN number with anyone else. Too many people choose something common or tell a bunch of people their secret number, remember it is for your eyes only not because you don't trust others but to protect your identity from card skimming.
  • Be on the alert all the time. There are few worse things then being the victim of credit card fraud. If you are always aware of potential issues you can better protect your financial interests.

While credit card skimming is just one of the ways that potential thieves use to get your personal data it is becoming more and more common. The biggest problem with it is that people do not experience missing cards so it often takes them longer to notice a problem allowing the criminals to charge up more fraudulent transactions. However, if you keep track of your account and your cards you should be able to avoid falling victim to this crime. There are also protection services which will monitory your details and ensure that if your credit numbers end up on the black market websites usually associated with these crimes, you're notified so you can close your account.

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