Avoid skimming scammers at the pump


Close-up of a hand pushing buttons on a keypad of an ATM

Lately in the news we’ve been hearing more and more about credit card skimmers. Now you might be asking yourself what is a credit card skimmer and how can I avoid my information from being stolen?

Credit card skimmers are a portable capture device that attach to a PIN-pad and/or card scanner. When a card is passed through the real scanner the skimmer reads the card information and keeps track of the data. Thieves are then able to retrieve your information gathered from the skimmer. [1]

Many of the locations that thieves like to use are self-service type of sale terminals such as: ATMs and gas pumps.

Here are some great ways of checking and avoiding skimmers:

  1. Inspect the card reader: Checking the machine to see if there is a picture of what the reader is supposes to look like helps consumers. Inspecting the machine, especially the card reader to make sure it looks like it matches the machine or that nothing looks strange. Make yourself familiar with what skimmers look like.
  1. Look at your surroundings: Especially at gas stations, does your station look like the others near by? Specifically if you’re at the back pump, where an attendant may not be able to see the pump, make sure that it matches the one near by.
  1. Trust your instincts: Of course you are your own best deterrent, does that machine you’re at just seem weird? If it does, go inside to pay for gas or to another machine. Also, be sure to mention something to an attendant or your Financial Institution if something seems off.
  1. Avoid Debit/PIN use at the Pump: Paying at the pump with your debit/credit card usually gives you the option of selecting which type of card you have and entering your PIN. It’s best to choose the credit option; this helps avoid Skimmers being able to retrieve your PIN.
  1. Keeping tack of your accounts: If you think that you may have been subjected to a Skimmer, be sure to keep and eye on your accounts for strange activity and report any suspicious activity immediately. You know your accounts better than anyone else, checking it daily for fraud, is the best step at keeping thieves out of your account.

Consumers is proactive in keeping our members and ATMs safe from skimmers. We utilize anti-skim devises or skim detectors in our ATMs to help keep our members safe from this growing threat.

“Our focus is to help educate members on looking at the card terminal before they use it,” says Stephanie Gustin, senior card services specialist for Consumers.

We urge our members to report anything suspicious by calling us 1-800-991-2221.

[1] O’Donnell, Andy. “How to Avoid Credit Card Skimmer.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.


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