There have been a slew of cyber attacks and different means are being used by cyber criminals to fleece money. Innocent citizens or Internet users who are not careful to it easily fall prey to their nefarious schemes. You might have come across a term like skimmer. If not then it is essential that you know about it and understand how you can keep your credit card safe from skimmers.
What are skimmers?
Skimmers are used by credit card criminals or the cyber offenders who are after stealing credit information of any person and utilize to their benefits. The only difference is that they tamper with payment terminals and as soon as someone swipes their card and the information is recorded which is later retrieved physically by a cyber criminal. The user would not know about it until there are major deviations in transaction or their bank details. Other things include cloning of cards, using stolen data, and even break-in to bank accounts.
Performing visual check
The first thing that you need to do is perform a check to determine if the payment unit is tampered with. When you approach an ATM the things that you need to look out for are card reader, speakers, side of the screen panel, variations in color of the panel, graphics or anything that seems suspicious. If it does then it is better not to use it and report it to the authorities concerned.
Another way is comparing the unit with another machine that is next to your ATM. If there are any differences that are easy to spot, visual difference or difference in buttons then it is better to not use it. For example, if another machine is flashing entry for ATM card and the machine that you are about to use does not then it means there is something fishy. Remember, skimmers can be easily glued on existing card readers and will cover the flashing indicator.
Performing physical check
There is another way to detect differences by using physical check method. This would mean that you need to physically push the card reader. If it seems to jiggle or looks like it is loose then chances are that it is fake. Check for keyboards, if this too starts jiggling then it might be a fake keyboard that is deployed to collect your information.
A skimmer is designed to collect data using the magnetic stripe of your card as you insert it. When you are about to insert your card wriggle it, if it refuses to read data then there is something wrong. This way you can foil the skimmer. If you are using a machine that takes your card in then you cannot do much as the reader must be installed in the unit itself.
Some safety measure
There are other things that you can take care of:
• Many times cameras are installed just on top of the keyboard for recording your PIN. Remember to cover the keyboard with your one hand while entering the PIN assuming that someone might be watching you. This can save you even if you are not able to detect a skimmer as PIN would still be needed by the hacker to utilize your data.
• Avoid using ATMs installed in obscure places that might be dangerous for you. Often, skimmers are not used on ATMs in high-security zones or places where there are lots of eyes to observe it.
• It is advised to use an ATM installed in a bank or a grocery store or inside a restaurant rather than use an ATM that is located on the sidewalk.
• Suspicious ATM machines are installed on weekends that would take time for anyone to report it and then removed too quickly before someone can take action.
If for any reason your card data is stolen even after taking precautions then immediately report it and get it blocked. Contact your card issue authority for credit card and your bank for debit card. Chances are that you would not be held liable for the loss and it might soon be refunded to you.