Tip of the Month: Five Ways to Prevent Your Card From Being Skimmed

card skimmingCard skimming is illegal, and it happens every day when you’d least expect it. The worst part is that card skimmers are getting more cunning about their illegal actions. These days bad actors employed as store clerks, food vendors, waitresses, and even delivery drivers may try to steal your information when they swipe your card. ATMs are also common target for such criminals.

Here are five ways to help yourself prevent card skimming on your account:

Card skimmers are stealing information from gas pumps, ATMs, and other self-service point of sale terminals (soda machines or vending machines) that get a lot of traffic throughout the day. The best rule of thumb: if any part of the machine is a different style or color, don’t use it. Look for any seals on the machine. Do not swipe your card if a seal is broken, it may have been tampered with. Report it to the owner and use cash instead.

Check nearby machines to see if they all look the same. Most skimmers operate small gigs, and rarely control more than one machine.

Don’t let your card out of your sight. Whenever possible, use cash in restaurants. It will give you peace of mind. Utilizing a credit card can be used as a second option, but it is risky. Be careful if someone swipes your card more than once, or takes your card to another area out of sight. Never use a debit card in restaurants as it has less consumer protection than a credit card. A credit card company can decline fraudulent purchases, close accounts, and issue you a new card faster than a debit card issued by a bank.

card skimmingAvoid using your PIN while shopping and protect your PIN at ATMs. Whenever possible, always use the credit option when using debit cards. If you use your PIN on a tampered terminal, you may unknowingly expose your PIN to criminals. Once they have your PIN, they can duplicate your card and start withdrawing money from your bank.

If you need to use an ATM, it is best to use your bank’s. Make sure no one is standing nearby when you are operating the machine. Cover the keypad with your hand to shield prying eyes and possible hidden cameras.

Keep a close eye on your accounts. Reviewing your accounts daily is recommended. Report any suspicious activity on your accounts to your financial institution immediately.The earlier the better for investigations.

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