Every time you withdrawal cash from an automated teller machine (ATM), buy movie tickets from a vending kiosk, or pump a tank of gas, you could become the next victim of “skimmer fraud.
Fortunately, you can take a few precautionary measures to stop skimmers from stealing your payment card numbers:
Be selective about where you swipe your card. For example, pick local gas stations that ask for ZIP codes before you pump gas. Be leery of older, urban ATMs that have loose or worn parts and poor lighting. And opt for newer ATMs that have installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, which may deter thieves from installing skimmers.
Cover keypads when you enter PINs to conceal them. Watch for people who look over your shoulder while entering your PIN at the ATM or into a POS terminal at a store.
Request restaurants and service providers — such as plumbers and landscapers — to use handheld devices in your plain view. Otherwise, opportunistic employees may skim data behind the scenes.
Ensure your card is only swiped once at a register. As noted by the U.S. Secret Service, in some cases “a collusive store employee completes a valid sale, and then captures a second (unauthorized) swipe covertly on a portable device before returning the card to the cardholder.”
Monitor your account statements for unauthorized charges. Contact your card provider immediately if you don’t recognize a charge. Also double-check that banks and credit card companies have your latest contact information, including your cellphone number. Check every charge on your statements, not just the large ones. Some payment card frauds charge small dollar amounts that cardholders won’t notice. For example, a recent payment card theft scam charged thousands of consumers $9.84 each, according to a fraud alert released by the Better Business Bureau.