Credit card skimming: How thieves can steal your card info without you knowing it

Taking just 5 seconds to inspect any credit/debit card reader before you swipe could end up saving you from identity and credit card theft.

  • The thief places a micro camera somewhere that can be camouflaged - such as a brochure holder - and yet give the camera a good view of the keypad that customers will use to input their PIN.

  • The first step that thieves take is to buy skimming gear online for around $400 from one of a slew of sources - many of them legitimate companies selling credit card readers to retailers. The thief then buys a card skimmer that matches the device type he wants to attack.

  • Skimming devices are well hidden and many ATMs or other card readers at first glance appear to be secure.

  • A keypad overlay accomplishes the same goal as a micro camera by resting over the top of an existing keypad.

  • Some thieves also place skimming devices in plain sight claiming that the device can restore your cards' magnetic strips.

  • Skimming works by retrofitting a perfectly legitimate card reader (such as an ATM) with a camouflaged counterfeit card reader. The counterfeit reader records all of your card's information as it passes through. Security expert Jamey Heary shows you what to look for before you swipe your card.

  • According to security expert Jamey Heary, during his presentations to IT pros about credit card skimming, less than half of the pros in the audience have heard of the scams.

  • Another common skimmer you should be aware of that works all by itself is a handheld micro skimmer. There are also skimmers that attach to mobile devices.

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