How to avoid skimmers this vacation season
With vacation season upon us, FTSB wants to make sure consumers do not become victims of skimming. Skimming is an electronic method of capturing a victim’s personal information (such as credit or debit card number and personal identification number) used by identity thieves to steal the victim’s funds. Skimming incidents continue to grow. According to the Electronic Payments Coalition, ATM fraud is up 546 percent, and gas station skimmers have cost consumers more than $2 billion since 2014.
The skinny on skimming
Skimmers are devices that are installed on ATMs and other credit card readers. The skimmers allow thieves to collect the data off of the magnetic stripe on credit or debit cards. That information is then used to illegally access the cardholder’s account.
Most banks, including FTSB, take precautions such as installing surveillance cameras on ATMs and monitoring accounts for suspicious activity. There is also a widespread shift to move from the magnetic stripe to the more secure EMV chip. Not all retailers have switched to EMV chip readers, and nonbank ATMs in gas stations and convenience stores do not have to upgrade until October 2017.
Don’t be a victim on vacation
Vacations are for relaxation. Reduce the worry and stress over skimming as you head out for your family trip this year by taking the following precautions:
- Look for signs of tampering. If you are using an ATM or filling up your gas tank on your trip, take a moment to inspect the card reader. Look for anything out of the ordinary with the card reader itself, the screen or the keyboard, such as a different color or material, or loose parts.
- Look for tamper-evident tape or locks. Many gas pumps have tape or locks that need to be broken in order to install skimming devices. If the tape or lock has been broken, it’s likely someone has tampered with the machine.
- Avoid paying at the pump. It may not be as convenient to walk into the gas station to purchase your gas, but it is far less of a hassle when compared to the theft of your credit or debit card information.
- Avoid using the ATM on vacation. Withdraw the cash you will need from a trusted and known source before you hit the road.
- Monitor your balances. Keep an eye out for suspicious transactions using online banking. The sooner you report fraudulent charges, the sooner your bank can take action.