How to Spot a Credit Card Skimmer

Credit card skimmers are still out there – and everyday more and more people become a victim of credit card fraud because of them – it’s just as common as being hacked online. It’s important to know how to spot a credit card skimmer, so you can avoid financial loss. Credit card skimmers can be on anything. For example, the POS terminal at the register of a grocery store, a pump at the gas station, or even the ATM machine outside your bank.

How to detect credit card skimmers:

Make sure nothing moves.

Credit card skimmers can attach directly to the top of machines and might also be underneath the pin pad. Don’t be afraid to pull or tug at the machine and to wiggle on the pin pad. If anything moves or feels loose, don’t use the machine. This is a step that will only take you a few seconds but can save you financially. If you have a hunch that something is off, do not use the machine. Simply go to another machine or leave that location.

Compare your machine to the one next to you.

If you’re at a gas station or outside a bank and there are multiple machines around you, compare yours to those ones. Make sure the colors are the same and there are no extra parts on yours. And if you do see extra parts on the one next to yours, it’s in your best interest to avoid all the machines in that area. That’s right, get in your car and go to a separate location. Unfortunately, there might not always be a machine next to yours to compare to.

Check for hidden graphics or text.

If a credit card skimmer has been installed onto the machine, it might cover up pieces of the machine or graphics and text. If this is the case, look for parts of the machine or graphics that are partially concealed – for example, a cut off word. This is a telltale sign that the machine has been tampered with. Some gas stations may have a piece of tape or a colored line that goes over the machine – check to make sure this is still in tact.

At the end of the day, it is important to stay aware and focused when using credit card machines. Check your surroundings, and try not to just “go through the motions.” One simple slip of the mind could cause major financial implications.