Protecting Yourself From Card Skimming


There is a major security concern currently in the Central Arkansas area, and you could be affected. What seems like a normal credit or debit transaction could possibly result in you becoming a victim of a relatively new type of identify theft referred to as card skimming. Skimmers can easily go unnoticed, but it is critical to be aware of and understand the risks surrounding it.


What Is Card Skimming?

Card skimming is a type of credit card theft where a small, usually unnoticeable, device is placed over the card swipe mechanism used to steal card information. When the card is swiped, the device captures all of the card information in the card\'92s magnetic strip. The stolen data is then used by thieves to make fraudulent purchases online or to create a counterfeit credit card. With an ATM or debit card, thieves can then withdraw cash from the checking account linked to that card.

How To Spot It

One of the first things you can do when you approach the ATM is to check for any signs of tampering. If anything looks different or suspicious, do not use that ATM. If you\'92re at the bank, take a look at the available ATMs, and if you notice anything abnormal, do not use it. If the keyboard feels unusually thick, there could possibly be an overlay that would be used to steal your PIN number. Overall, it\'92s just important to keep your guard up when conducting any transaction with your credit or debit card.

If you don\'92t notice any immediate physical tampering with an ATM, it's a good idea to go ahead and push all of the buttons before you begin your transaction. If there are any wiggling or loose parts, then there is a chance that they have been tampered with. Most ATMs are very sturdy, so contact the bank immediately if anything appears broken.

Keep in mind that card skimmers generally go undetected because their theft devices have gotten smaller and more unnoticeable. Since these devices can be difficult to detect, it is better to be cautious and spend an extra minute at an ATM giving it a careful examination than assuming your card is safe.


How To Protect Yourself

Although it is difficult to spot a credit card skimmer, there are a few preventative measures you can take to ensure your safety.

First and foremost, be careful and cautious.

Watch where you shop, and make sure your card doesn\'92t leave your sight. Don\'92t get too comfortable just handing your card out at restaurants. When you\'92re completing a transaction, just assume someone is watching. Cover your hand when you type your PIN, which eliminates the risk of either someone looking over your shoulder or a hidden camera capturing what you type. When you enter your card, wiggle it because skimmers can only read the magnetic strip if it is placed straight in. Shred any unwanted financial documents and have a trusted friend or neighbor get your mail for you if you go out of town.

If at all possible, try to avoid using your card\'92s magnetic stripe. Two alternatives to this are using the EMV chip and using NFC (near-field communication) transactions such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. When you use the EMV chip, your personal information is never transmitted. It is possible to hack the EMV readers, but it is much harder than magnetic strip skimming.

NFC transactions don\'92t expose your personal information, and if a criminal were to hack that information they would only get a useless virtual credit card number because a random, one-time use code is generated instead of transmitting the user's actual debit or credit card number.

What You Can Do If You Think You're A Victim

Victims are usually unaware that it has happened until they receive billing statements, messages via personal online banking, or overdraft notices in the mail. Keep an eye on your debit and credit card transactions and report any suspicious activity to the bank and the police as soon as you see it.

If you have questions about your card security, protecting your online checking account or online savings account, or believe that you have been the victim of skimming or identity theft, contact Telcoe Federal Credit Union immediately at (501) 725-6458 or visit us at

Questions? Contact Us!

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