What Are Skimmers and How Do I Spot Them?

Scammers are always looking for new ways to steal your hard-earned money. While many scams take place online, in the real world, people are also getting taken advantage of. One new way that the bad guys are stealing from people is by using card skimmers. Today, we are going to learn about these devices and how to spot them.

What Is A Skimmer Device?

A skimmer device is a malicious card reader that is attached to a payment terminal. These pay terminals are all over the place. ATM and pay at the pump terminals are some of the most common places targeted by thieves. Once a skimmer device is placed inside of a pay terminal, criminals leave them in place for several days or weeks.

How Does A Skimmer Work?

The entire time these devices are working, they are gathering credit card and bank information. After time has gone by, the thief will return to the scene of the crime and retrieve the skimmer. He or she then takes it to another location where the gathered information can be downloaded to a computer.

What Do They Do With The Stolen Data

Criminals normally use the stolen data in two different ways. The most common use for the stolen data is very simple. They will take the card information and go shopping online. They will try to buy as many things as they can before the card gets flagged. This can devastate your bank account and really ruin your day. The second way that they use the stolen data is to sell it other criminals. They often put the card information on the black market and auction it off to the highest bidder. This is done on what is known as the Deep Web.

How Can You Spot A Skimmer?

Before you use a payment terminal, always make sure to visually check for tampering. If you notice something is not right with the payment terminal, walk away and use another one. In addition to looking over a payment terminal, you also want to wiggle things around. Payment terminals such as an ATM is very well built and things should not be moving around. If you find any part of the payment terminal is loose, avoid it at all costs.

As you can see, card skimmers are very hard to spot. But if you check for tampering before you use your card, you can often avoid getting scammed. So be very diligent when you are using your bank or credit card in ATM’s or any other outside pay terminal.