In this age of convenience, many of us depend on the convenience of things like paying for gas at the pump, rather than walking in to pay cash to the inside attendant. But, when you swipe your card at the gas pump, you may be handing thieves what they need to steal money from your bank account or go on a spending spree with your hard-earned paycheck.
What is a Skimmer?
A credit card skimmer is a device that is smaller than a deck of cards and fits over the existing card reader. These card readers can grab data off the card’s magnetic strip attached to the real payment terminal so that they can collect data from every person that comes and swipes their card. Most of the time the crooks will even install a hidden camera somewhere close with a view of the key pad in order to record your PIN (Personal Identification Number).
This type of theft is on the rise because it is an easy, non-violent way to steal your money. Criminals that have been running skimming operations are improving the technology they use to make stealing card data even easier. Security Experts are even calling for card issuers and gas station owners to step up their game to fight back. The skimmers can be installed on many different gas pumps with ease, and they don’t even have to come back to retrieve the devices. Increasingly, they are using wireless internal skimmers that transmit the card data to them via Bluetooth devices, so they don’t even have to take the risk of retrieving the skimmer from the pump to download stolen card data.
How Do I Minimize My Risk?
- Pay attention when you’re getting ready to scan your card. Sometimes the skimmers will be a different color and will be off centered. If something feels off, don’t do it.
- Be suspicious if the gas pump has a broken seal or has the word “Void” on it.
- Choose pumps that are close to the building, and not hidden around the corner.
- Monitor your credit or debit card statements carefully. If you are married, sit down with your spouse and inspect all transactions. Some thieves take out small amounts over time, in hopes cardholders will not notice.
- If you feel as if your card has been compromised, contact your local police immediately.
- Contact your credit union immediately and report that your card has been compromised or stolen.
We encourage you to watch for skimmers on ATMs and gas pumps to protect yourself from fraud on your Eastex Credit Union accounts. Plus, it’s important to monitor your accounts with Online Banking or Mobile Banking and alert us immediately if you notice purchases you did not make. By working together, we can do our part to minimize the impact that dishonest people will have on our community!