Nearly half of all Americans have had their compromised credit card information over the past five years, according to Credit Donkey, 47% reported fraud, totaling more than $28 billion in losses. And 73% of Americans say they’re still worried being a victim of credit card scamsaccording to Credit Repair.
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One of the ways scammers have had great success in recent years has been credit card skimming, using a “device installed on card readers that collects credit card numbers”, specifically when using the magnetic tape, according to Forbes. The scammer then collects the information and uses it for their own purchases or sells the information to a third party. The criminal practice occurred in stores, ATMs, restaurants and gas stations.
It’s so common at gas stations, reports Lending Tree, that it’s changed the way people pay at the pump. In a survey conducted by the site, 15% of people said they had been victims of credit card skimming when filling up with gas and 43% said that the fear of being victimized changed the way they paid at the gas station. station, either in cash or using a credit card. at an indoor terminal rather than at the pump itself.
Part of the problem is that gas stations were one of the last points of purchase to switch to EMV technology, aka Europay, Mastercard and Visa, the three major credit card companies that created the standard for purchases safer, says Tech Target.
EMV cards have an embedded chip that the user can insert or tap to process payment (rather than swipe), then use a two-factor authentication process, such as adding a PIN. Although they aren’t foolproof, says US News & World Report, especially since EMV cards still have magnetic stripes and if you’re asked to use this method (if a chip reader isn’t working for example ), you are still at risk.
Even with technology upgrades, fraud still exists, especially at unmanned self-service outlets like ATMs and gas stations.
Some of the ways scammers could collect your information, according to Forbes, can include an almost invisible camera at an ATM that can see the numbers you enter for your PIN, or a fake keypad placed on top of a real one to do the same. Sometimes there is even a fake card reader that picks up the information. And now there’s a newer technology called “flicker” that’s “hidden inside a card reader’s slot,” says US News & World Report to steal the information.
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But, there are ways to protect yourself using smart practices, experts say. Here are their top tips:
Look around for any suspicious information. At the gas station, for example, make sure your terminal’s card reader looks like all the others (and isn’t bigger or smaller or has a different keypad). Also use gas pumps in well-lit areas near the gas station kiosk – scammers will always install cheat devices on pumps that are harder to see.
Inspect the credit card reader. If it kinks easily, the alignment isn’t perfect, or the case’s protective seal is broken, it may have been tampered with.
When using a debit card, run it like a credit card. This will avoid having to enter a PIN code which can be compromised. If you need to enter a PIN, cover the information with your hand in case there are cameras nearby. The use of a credit card, in general, can also be useful – in case of fraud, it will not be “real time” money that will be stolen and it is sometimes easier to fight against these cases with credit card companies than with your bank.
Use cash or pay inside the terminal. One of the safest methods is to pay in cash when the currency is not linked to your bank account (but again, if you receive money from an ATM, use your hand to cover the money). screen and keyboard when entering information) . Paying inside a terminal at a gas station is also a good idea when there is more quality control and one person runs the point of sale.
Try a digital currency. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, and Zelle do not have the risk of information being skimmed, although you should be careful that online information is not compromised either.
Pay attention to bank statements. Monitoring your bank statements is always a good idea to look for inconsistencies. In the case of card skimming fraud, even small transactions of a dollar or two can be a sign that the scammer is examining the viability of your account and may be gearing up for a larger purchase – unless you do not notice it and report it to your bank. to cut them.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How to Prevent Credit Card Skimming: 6 Tips to Protect Yourself