What is card skimming?
‘Card skimming’ is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. It is a more direct version of a phishing scam.
The scammers try to steal your details so they can access your accounts. Once scammers have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or ‘cloned’ card with your details on it. The scammer is then able to run up charges on your account.
Card skimming is also a way for scammers to steal your identity (your personal details) and use it to commit identity fraud. By stealing your personal details and account numbers the scammer may be able to borrow money or take out loans in your name.
- A shop assistant takes your card out of your sight in order to process your transaction.
- You are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine.
- You see a shop assistant swipe the card through a different machine to the one you used.
- You notice something suspicious about the card slot on an ATM (e.g. an attached device).
- You notice unusual or unauthorized transactions on your account or credit card statement.
Protect yourself from card skimming
- Keep your credit card and ATM cards safe. Do not share your personal identity number (PIN) with anyone. Do not keep any written copy of your PIN with the card.
- Check your bank account and credit card statements when you get them. If you see a transaction you cannot explain, report it to your credit union or bank.
- Choose passwords that would be difficult for anyone else to guess.
As well as following these specific tips, find out how to protect yourself from all sorts of other scams.
Do your homework
If you are using an ATM, take the time to check that there is nothing suspicious about the machine.
Ask yourself if you trust the person or trader who you are handing your card over to. If a shop assistant looks like they are going to take your card out of your sight, ask if it is really necessary.
If an ATM looks suspicious, do not use it and alert the ATM owner.
If you are in a shop and the assistant wants to swipe your card out of your sight, or in a second machine, you should ask for your card back right away and either pay with a check or cash, or not make the purchase.
If you think you have seen a card skimming scam, you should contact the bank, credit union or credit card provider that has been targeted.
If you think your card has been skimmed, contact your bank or credit union immediately to report it.