How to Detect & Prevent Credit Card Skimming

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Credit card skimming incidents can be difficult to detect since the credit cards are never lost or stolen. The best way to detect a skimmed credit card is to watch your accounts frequently by monitoring checking and credit card accounts online daily and report any suspicious activity immediately.

Shops, restaurants, bars, and gas stations seem to be the places where credit card incidents happen most frequently. That’s because cardholders are comfortable letting their cards leave their sight in these places. But, if you can’t see your credit card, it could be getting skimmed.

Know how a credit card skimmer looks. has a few pictures of credit card skimmers and demonstrates how difficult it is to detect the devices, which are becoming smaller and smaller.  Some are small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.

Before using an ATM, make sure there aren’t any devices attached to it. At ATMs, skimmers often place a camera within view of the keypad to steal your PIN. Or, they place a fake keypad on top of the real one to record your keystrokes. When you’re using an ATM, cover your hand as you type your PIN to keep a camera from catching a view of what you’re typing. If the keys seem hard to push, eject your card and use another ATM.

Don’t become a victim of “credit card cleaning” scams, where thieves claim to clean the magnetic strip on your credit card. These thieves simply swipe your credit card through a credit card skimmer and take your credit card information.

How to Report a Credit Card Skimming Loss

Contact your creditor to let them know about the loss. Call first, and then follow-up in writing.

Place a fraud alert on your credit report. This forces businesses to confirm your identity before approving applications in your name.

Alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They often work to break up large credit card skimming rings. Your complaint will help catch the thieves.