Police Release Credit Card Skimmer Image: How to Protect Yourself

14 August 2015

To help consumers protect themselves against credit card fraud, police have released photographs of skimmers attached to gas pump payment slots in Valleyview.

Credit card skimmers are designed to fit onto legitimate card slots, capturing information from unsuspecting patrons. As the photographs show, the devices are difficult to detect unless one knows what to look for.

Once that data is captured, the thieves have multiple ways to use it. They can create fraudulent cards with the same numbers, or simply make purchases via telephone or online in what is called “card not present” fraud. In the Valleyview case, police can examine the skimmer to see what, if any, data was collected.

For consumers, this sort of case highlights the importance of taking protective precautions.

Some of the most important include:
Report fraud as soon as possible: This helps the authorities gather as much information as possible about a suspected crime, and could prevent it from happening to another person in the future. There is also an immediate benefit to you: the issuing institution can cancel your credit card immediately and send you a new one, which will prevent any further charges to your compromised card.

Write down your credit card information, and keep it in a secure place: This data could be crucial if one of your cards is lost or stolen. By keeping complete records. you can share more detailed information with your bank or the police. Just be sure to keep this information in a secure place (such as a locked file on your computer), and away from the cards themselves.

Be mindful when using your card in a new place: If a particular card reader or ATM strikes you as unusual or suspicious, consider finding another one to use that you know to be trustworthy. If this is not possible, write down any identifying details and carefully examine your statement in the weeks after you use it.

Never share your PIN: Your personal identification number is exactly that: personal. Do not share it with any other person, and do not write it down. Instead, memorize it so that in the event that your card is lost or stolen, the person who obtains it has limited ability to access your funds. You should also consider changing it every so often, especially if it’s possible that somebody has seen you type it in.

Know your status: A credit monitoring service can alert you to certain activity that might indicate fraud has occurred. The sooner you become aware of potentially false transactions, the sooner you will be able to begin repairing any damage done. You will also be able to better pinpoint when exactly your information may have been compromised.