BBB’s Tips on Spotting and Avoiding Credit Card Skimmers

August 02, 2017

When you pull up to a gas pump or visit your bank’s ATM, you might not be paying much attention when inserting your card.  You might have missed an attachment to these machines, often called a credit card skimmer, which is used to access credit card information. Scammers are able to replicate the look of these machines, placing their crafted skimmers over the area where you insert your card. Once a card is swiped, the skimmer is able to store the details of the magnetic strip.

How are you instantly able to avoid these types of skimmers? One of the most immediate ways to check is to jiggle on the scanner around the card slot. ATMs are not meant to have loose parts, so wiggling the foreign insert could remove it completely. Scammers might not be able to fully install one of these devices, for fear of being caught by employees or cameras, so these scanners could be loosely mounted. 

Scammers are advancing with their skimmer techniques, resorting to internal devices such as one that was discovered at a gas pump on Route 303 in Brunswick, Ohio. An internal skimming device was found attached to the credit card key pad on one of the pumps. An order to enhance inspections has been issued in the area of Medina County, including the usage of blue tape on devices. If these devices have been tampered with, the tape shows a voided side, warning customers of illegal activity.

Other similar attacks have been reported in Barberton, Tallmadge, Norton and Wadsworth in the past year.

There are other ways of preventing identity theft and avoiding credit card skimmers:

  • Use credit cards as opposed to debit cards on gas pumps. Credit card fraud disputes are easier to manage. Credit card companies will often send out an alert if your card has been tampered with, saving you from having to front the cash.
  • Take note of unusual activity when evaluating the gas pump. Look for off color terminals attachments, devices that aren’t flush with the machine and any loose pieces. Compare gas pumps closest to you and verify that they appear similar. 
  • Pay inside. If you feel uncomfortable with paying at the gas pump, see the attendant inside the gas station. Use a chip reader when available.
  • BBB suggests monitoring your bank statements and looking for unusual activity. If you note anything suspicious, contact your credit card issuer and place a fraud alert on your card.
  • If you catch a credit card skimmer, report the incident to your local law enforcement agency. You can also report the scam to BBB’s ScamTracker to help increase awareness with other potential victims.


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