Tips for Spotting Credit Card Skimmers

Tips for Spotting Credit Card Skimmers

You have probably heard of credit card skimmers, the diabolical little devices that criminals attach to ATMs and other credit card scanners for the purpose of stealing card information and PINs. It’s almost enough to make you wary of the entire credit process. Instead of giving up the option to accept plastic at your business, it makes more sense to learn how to spot the existence of these money-suckers.

How Do Skimmers Work?

The main thing a skimmer needs is the information off of the magnetic strip on the credit card. Once the gizmo is in place, copying the data is fast and effortless. In no time, information can be used online to make thousands of dollars in purchases. Fortunately, the advent of today’s encrypted EMV cards is making this process increasingly difficult for criminals and is making the entire payment processing industry more secure.

Types of Skimmers

Since not all cards have transitioned into the new chip format, it makes sense to learn about the main types of skimmers. Keeping a sharp eye out can protect your customers from a great deal of stress and financial loss.

  • Overlay skimmers. As the name suggests, these devices are placed over the card reader, such as at gas stations. If the area around the machine’s card reader slot doesn’t look like it is the same color or is otherwise mismatched or tampered with, beware. Also, watch for the presence of a hidden camera put there to take pictures of the keypad as the PIN is entered. Even the keyboard can be an overlay that has been fitted over the existing one.
  • Modern skimmers. Criminals will go to seemingly any length to steal your money. These days, they are engineering skimmers that fit over the entire front of a credit card machine, making spotting them next to impossible. Other skimmers are placed inside the card readers in gas pumps. Finally, hand-held skimmers look just like the ones used by store employees. You have no way of knowing that a retail worker is deliberately using this advanced machine to capture card information in order to use it for their own purposes.

Ways to Protect Yourself Against Skimmers

No innovation is safe from hacking, and that is certainly true of even the most encrypted credit cards. However, whenever possible, use a chip or EMV card reader to minimize the chances that your customers will be victims. Also take advantage of the built-in NFC technology utilized by smartphones by offering your customers the option to pay with secure, contactless mobile payments.

Unfortunately, no amount of precautions will totally eliminate criminals or their devious devices. However, the chance of your customers becoming a victim drops drastically when you take precautions. By keeping your senses attuned, you might just foil an unscrupulous attempt to separate your customers from their money.