How To Protect Yourself From Credit Card Skimming

By Bruce Boswell •  Updated: 12/09/21 •  6 min read
Filed under: Credit Cards

Making sure you have full control over your finances is vitally important. There are many people out there who would be willing to break the law to get a hold of your money and you need to be prepared to protect your money in order to keep you and your family safe. 

This is why you must make sure that you know where your credit card is at call times. Credit cards, even amongst other types of cards, are liable to be targeted by villains more than debit cards or crash because they are seen as an easy way to get money. 

How to protect yourself from credit card skimming

However, whilst you might think of criminals getting money off your credit card in the old way of holding you at knife point or stealing your purse, there are much smarter criminals out there who are willing to use technology to steal your money. 

Technology is a great thing however it can also be dangerous in the wrong hands. This is why you need to know how technology can be used against you by scammers.

One of the most pernicious scams that is out there at the moment is that of the skimmers.

If you don’t know what a skimmer is you might be wondering – how to protect yourself from credit card skimming? Well, this piece will outline exactly what a skimmer is and how to protect yourself from them. 

What Are Credit Card Skimmers? 

First of all, let’s address what a credit card skimmer actually is. Whilst skimming might make you think of something akin to skimming rocks across a lake. However, that isn’t what skimming is. 

Credit card skimming is when a fraudster fixes a small device to an ATM or other credit card reader which allows them to copy your data. If you aren’t familiar with ATMs or other credit card readers and don’t examine them properly then you might not be able to spot what a skimming device looks like and end up losing money. 

The device works by copying all the information on your card – your name, the credit card number and the expiry date of the card – and stores it until the skimmer comes by to collect the device and make off with your data.

What the skimmer will then do with your data depends on what they are interested in. 

Some skimmers will make fake cards using your details so they can go around and pay for things as if their card were your card or they might take the details from the card to pay for things online.

Many skimmers have a habit of copying mass amounts of information to use for online purchases which is why it is sometimes difficult to catch them. 

If the skimmer is particularly cunning, then they may even install a camera to see you put your pin number in or replace the normal touch pad with a fake touch pad in order to copy your pin number as you type it in to the machine!

Now that we’ve established what exactly a skimmer is and what they do, let’s turn to informing you how to protect you and your credit card from them. 

How To Protect Yourself From Credit Card Skimming

Credit card skimmers may think that they are devious and clever but often they aren’t. This is because they often fail to think all their scam through and presume that nobody else will question their scamming ways.

To stop your credit card from being skimmed at an ATM, make sure to properly examine the ATM. If it looks as if it has been marked or tampered with generally then avoid it because it is possible that a skimmer has attempted to interfere with it. 

Even if the ATM looks entirely kosher make sure to check to see if you can see any hidden camera in the ATM or in close proximity to it. This is because skimmer will often install cameras in order to not only copy the actual physical card information but your pin number as well.

Even if you don’t spot a camera make sure to cover the keypad as you are putting your pin number in, just for extra protection. 

Once you have checked to see whether there is any camera there or not, investigate the keypad and the card reader sections of the ATM. If the color scheme of the keypad looks different to other ATMs of a similar brand don’t use it – it is likely that a scammer has installed a fake keypad in order to get your information. 

After you have examined the keypad, take a look at the card reader itself. Make sure to check to see whether the color scheme is similar to other ATM card readers and or with the rest of the unit.

See if you can wiggle the card reader as well. This is important because the skimming device needs to be detachable so if you can wiggle the card reader at all or even detach it, then you know you are on to a scam.

If the card reader does detach contact those responsible for the ATM’s upkeep immediately and report that you have encountered a scam machine. 

Even if you aren’t using an ATM, fraudsters who like to use skimming devices can interfere with shop card readers as well. This is why, rather than inserting your card and typing your pin in, you should always go for the NFC method – this means simply tapping your card on a card reader’s screen in order to pay.

Skimmers aren’t able to get the kind of information they need if you use this method. 

Equally, if you have to use an ATM make sure you use a supervised one as skimmers are much less likely to target them than unsupervised ATMs. 

Keeping Your Credit Card Safe

Keeping as much of your money to yourself as possible is vitally important. It is crucial that you do all you can to ensure that you get the money you need when you need it and that it doesn’t fall into the hands of scammers.

This is why you should always be vigilant and ensure that your card is never taken by scammers. 

The methods above will surely help you to keep your card being scammed. But the most important advice anyone can give you regarding keeping your credit card safe is this – make sure to be vigilant.

Don’t let your card out of sight and you will likely not face the same scammers or scamming issues you would if you didn’t keep an eye on it. 

Bruce BoswellBruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell enjoys researching and writing about all things related to investing and saving money. Whenever he has a chance, Bruce loves travelling all around the world with his wife and trying new foods.