Many people do their best to protect their credit cards, but they might be more vulnerable than you think. For example, credit card skimmers are devices that hackers and criminals use that will steal your card numbers. This will teach you how to spot these skimmers and what you can do if your numbers are stolen.
What are Credit Card Skimmers?
The first thing you should know is what skimmers are. They are devices that often connect directly to legitimate devices, such as ATMs and gas station pumps, and can read your card numbers. Unfortunately, many people don’t notice them because you can still swipe your card like normal. You should also be able to pay your bills or get money from the affected devices.
The skimmer isn’t noticeable unless you’re looking for it. That’s why they are so insidious. You’ll think everything is fine, but the truth is that you just handed a hacker your credit card numbers. So they read the magnetic strip and give all that information directly to the hacker.
Spotting a Card Skimmer
Do you want to know how to spot a credit card skimmer? They tend to be somewhat easy to locate if you’re on alert for them, but they can go undetected unless you’re aware of them.
Most card skimmers are inconspicuous, but they stick out a little, and that’s important. According to the experts at SoFi, “check if the card reader is loose or the keypad is unusually bulky.” Other signs include the card reader jutting out at an odd angle, security tape being ripped or feeling a slight obstruction when placing your card in the terminal.
While sometimes a card reader might just be worn down from use and the parts have been moved around, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If anything seems out of place, loose or bulky, then consider using another card reader.
Are Chips Safe?
Most credit cards now have chips or can be scanned by tapping the card reader. Are these cards safe? Yes and no. Cards that can be tapped are less likely to be skimmed because they aren’t being swiped through a reader. This means that you avoid skimmers that read the magnetic strip.
Cards with chips have extra encryption and often use a different part of the card reader. This means they are less likely to be swiped, but sometimes you have to because the chip isn’t being read correctly.
While these security measures reduce the odds of skimming your card, they aren’t perfect.
What to do if Credit Card Is Skimmed
If your card was skimmed, then call the credit card company and report it. Most places now have zero-liability fraud protection, which means you shouldn’t have to pay for the thief using your card. At the same time, each company is different. In either case, report this as soon as possible to minimize the damage.
Spotting a card skimmer tends to be easier if you know what to look for, but these devices are becoming more sophisticated all the time. Regardless of how it happens, be sure to call the credit card company as soon as possible if you think your card has been skimmed.