Watch Your Debit Cards: Thieves Get Craftier With Skimmers

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Katzenfreund, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. Katzenfreund

    Katzenfreund MDL Expert

    Jul 15, 2016
    Stealing debit card information using "skimmers" at gas pumps and ATMs is an old problem. But thieves are becoming more sophisticated at hiding the devices and getting around some of the fixes merchants have put in their way. Among the newest tools are deep-insert skimmers, which disappear into the payment device card slot and are completely hidden from the consumer.

    Skimmers—electronic devices that thieves insert into ATMs and card readers—can record data stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of your debit card. Thieves often use them along with tiny cameras or other devices to capture cardholders' personal identification numbers when they punch them in on a keypad.

    How to Protect Your Cards

    Consumers most at risk for debit card theft are those who use nonbank ATMs, such as the ones in convenience stores, and those who make purchases at out-of-the-way merchants, such as remote gas stations.

    If data is stolen from your card, you could find that your debit card was used to make unauthorized purchases or withdrawals from your bank account. The faster you act, the better. If you delay in notifying the bank, you could be responsible for up to the whole amount.

    Because it can often be impossible to detect whether a skimmer has been inserted into the card reader you may be using, consider taking these precautions:

    Don’t use remote ATMs and point-of-sale terminals. ATMs that are in low-trafficked, poorly lit areas are vulnerable to being tampered with by thieves. So are gas pumps that accept credit cards at stations far from major highways. The safest ATMs, are the vestibule and drive-up machines at your bank. But skimmers have been found even in some of those.

    Look for signs of tampering. Before using an ATM or point-of-sale terminal, try wiggling the keypad or card slot. If anything seems loose, don’t use the device. Also look for keypads that appear raised or have an unusual color. A thief could have placed an overlay on the keypad to record the personal identification number you punch in. Some gas pumps have security tape that forms a seal around the card reader. If the seal is broken, that could be a sign that the reader has been compromised.

    Protect your PIN. Place your hand over the keypad when entering your personal identification number in case thieves have installed a pinhole camera to record it.

    Use a chip card. Credit and debit cards with chips offer better protection than those only with magnetic stripes. But that’s only the case if you insert just the chip portion of your card into a reader. If you need to insert your entire card, a skimmer may steal the data from the magnetic stripe.

    Check your transactions. Carefully examine your bank account activity online to see whether funds have been withdrawn that you didn't authorize. You can also set up an alert so that you're notified when funds are withdrawn.
  2. JFKI

    JFKI MDL Expert

    Oct 25, 2015
  3. Tiger-1

    Tiger-1 MDL Guru

    Oct 18, 2014
    @Katz good info dude, because unfortunately some people's still put easy passwords as birthday, marriage and and so on in another hand here in my country cards with chip exist at least several years ago so no issues :)
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  4. Katzenfreund

    Katzenfreund MDL Expert

    Jul 15, 2016
    You’re right on both counts. Some people do use easy passwords and risk not only getting hacked, but also the bank may refuse any refund on the grounds of gross negligence. For example, here car insurance companies don’t pay if you leave your car keys in the car and it gets stolen.

    As for chip cards, it’s the same here, but I fear it won’t be long before they can crack those as well.
  5. kero48

    kero48 MDL Novice

    Apr 10, 2017
    Thankfully I don't have debit and or credit cards so I don't have to worry but thanks for the info, will advise others I know!