Beware of credit card scammers this holiday

Scammers and thieves are getting more and more clever to try to get their next victim. 

One of the ways they're targeting people is through credit card skimmers. 

Carlos Villalobos, with the Better Business Bureau, joins us in studio to explain what you can do to protect yourself. 

What are skimmers and how do card skimming devices work?

Skimmers are illegal card readers attached to gas pumps that take data off a card's magnetic stripe. Criminals use the stolen data by either selling your information or using it to buy things online.

Identity thieves typically tamper with card readers in one of the two following ways:

  1. Thieves may attach a card-reading device to the card slot at a gas pump. The device will scan and store the magnetic strip of each card that is inserted into the banking machine.
  2. Thieves sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras placed above the keypad area to record PIN entries.

What can customers do to protect themselves?

  • Inspect the credit card reader.
    • Take a careful look at the card reader before swiping your card.
    • Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn't show signs of tampering.
    • Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage.
    • If something appears out of the ordinary, pay inside or move to another gas pump.
  • Protect your PIN.
    • When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private PIN from any cameras in the vicinity.
    • Try to use a credit card, but if you must use a debit card, run it as credit instead of entering a PIN.
  • Monitor your statements.
    • Even the most careful person can still fall victim to skimmers, so it's important to keep a close eye on your accounts.
    • Look for suspicious charges and particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits.
    • Report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution as soon as you discover it.
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