Skimmers are devices criminals attach to ATMs and gas pumps to steal your credit card information when you swipe it in the machine. They are harder to spot than you think, so it’s essential to always be on the lookout for them. Here are several ways to spot a credit card skimmer and protect yourself from fraud.
Does the Keypad Seem Too Big?
Can you send money with a credit card through a skimmer? Yes, so be careful. Most skimmers are designed to fit over the existing card reader, so if the keypad seems too big, it could be a skimmer. So take a close look at the ATM or gas pump before using it, and if anything looks out of place, don’t use the machine.
Is There Tape Covering Up the Pin Pad?
If there’s tape covering up the pin pad or anything else that looks out of place, it’s best to avoid using that ATM. For example, it could indicate that someone has placed a skimming device on top of the original card reader and has collected your card information.
According to experts at SoFi, many credit card skimmers are small devices made with plastic and placed overtop the card slot so you won’t notice them when you’re making your transaction. Instead, they collect your data as you insert your card into the machine. If you notice any signs of tampering around the slot for your credit cards, go somewhere else immediately.
Is It Too Light Around the Area of the Pin Pad On the Machine?
If you’re using an ATM, be suspicious if the area around the PIN pad looks too light. This could signify that someone has placed a skimming device over the keypad. The card reader may also not sit flush with the machine or have been tampered with somehow.
Does It Take Longer Than Normal for Your Transaction to Process?
If you’re used to swiping your card and having the transaction go through immediately, a delay could signify that your card information is being transmitted to a skimmer. If you’re ever in doubt, ask the cashier or manager if there’s a problem with the card reader. They should be able to tell you if it’s working correctly.
Does It Look Different from Other ATMs in Its Bank Network?
When you use your credit or debit card at an ATM, look closely at the machine before inserting your card. Don’t use it if it looks like it has been tampered with.
Some skimmers are very sophisticated and can be hard to spot. But if the ATM looks different from other machines in its bank network—for example, if it has a different color keypad—it could be a skimmer.
Is There Something Obstructing Your View While You Type in Your Pin Number?
Check for anything that might be blocking your view of the keypad as you enter your PIN. This could be a sign that there’s a skimmer attached.
Take a close look at the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. For example, are there any loose wires or parts that look out of place? Be wary of ATMs or credit card readers in unusual locations or locations that aren’t well-lit.