You already know all about identity theft. You’ve done your research. The trouble is, identity theft is always changing. Even if you knew everything there is to know about identity theft yesterday, it’s a whole new ballgame today!
One sneaky way identity thieves can get ahold of your money is by using a skimmer. What is a skimmer, you ask? Let us fill you in.
The definition of skimming
Skimming is an electronic means of capturing personal information. The skimmer itself is a small device, although each device looks unique. This device is able to scan your credit card and store the information that can be found in your card’s magnetic strip.
Once your information has been obtained, it can be used by the person in control of the skimming device, or your information can be sold to third parties.
Ways you may be getting skimmed
Unfortunately, getting skimmed isn’t as simple as it sounds because thieves have devised many ways to trick you into thinking that your information is being passed along safely.
One of the easiest ways your card can be skimmed is at a restaurant. This is one of the few times that you present your card and the waiter or waitress retreats to a secluded area to scan your card and process the cost of your meal. While your waiter is in possession of your card, they can use a scanning device that is easily concealed in their pocket to steal your information.
ATM machines aren’t necessarily safe either. Identity thieves can easily switch out the scanning device with one of their own, which allows them complete access to your accounts.
Unfortunately, mobile transactions are especially troublesome. This includes local shops that use scanners on their iPhones and delivery drivers who show up at your door. In many cases, you will be asked to swipe twice, which you will probably think nothing of, because those card readers can be kind of finicky. However, it could just as well be that the first swipe transmitted your information to an illegal server, while the second swipe was the one that actually processed your order.
How to avoid skimming
With all that information, you probably think you’re doomed. What in the world can you possibly do to prevent skimming?!
First, follow your gut. If something seems a bit off, it probably is. If the person requesting to scan your card doesn’t seem professional, opt to pay with cash instead.
Never allow your card to be swiped out of view. Many restaurants today set up their waiter and waitress payment stations in plain view for this purpose. If you’re purchasing something at a store, you should be able to swipe your card at the cash register.
Keep an eye open for strange looking card readers. If you approach an ATM and the card reader doesn’t look quite right, seek out a different machine.
And don’t worry! A solution to this problem is coming in the form of an EMV card!
Thieves can obtain your information without scanning your card too!
In today’s digital age, thieves don’t necessarily have to scan your card with a skimmer in order to get your information. Believe it or not, but simple scanning technology can be just as effective, which means your personal information could be in danger, even if your card is tucked away safely in your wallet.
Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve. Simply purchase an RFID blocking wallet!
Just knowing what kind of scams are out there will make you a better consumer. And rest assured, even if your information is stolen, authorities are cracking down hard on skimming schemes.