You’re probably familiar with credit card skimming: Thieves place a device over a payment terminal or ATM reader designed to steal and store your debit card or credit card information once you swipe its magnetic stripe.
What you may not realize is how quickly and easily someone can install such a device.
A new video released by the Miami Beach Police and posted to CBS Miami’s Facebook page shows two men attaching a skimmer to a gas station payment terminal in plain sight. In the video, one man makes polite conversation and distracts the store clerk by requesting some items behind the counter. While she goes to get the merchandise, a second man slips the skimmer over the point-of-sale system. The installation is complete in a matter of seconds.
You can watch the surveillance video, which was uploaded by a YouTube user, below.
Thieves who install skimmers typically come back to get the device at some point so they can use the pilfered info to start counterfeiting cards. In this case, a store employee noticed the skimmer when its keypad came loose the very next day and contacted the police, but not all incidents are easily thwarted or avoided.
To minimize the odds of getting skimmed, try to stick to ATMs that are inside a bank as opposed to right out in the open, where skimmers are more readily installed. And consider using cash or credit cards (which can provide better fraud protections than debit cards) at high-risk establishments like gas stations or payment kiosks.
You can also use an EMV chip-enabled credit card wherever they are accepted. The chips, unlike traditional magnetic stripes, have a security code that changes every time you dip, so they’re difficult to counterfeit.
Remember, the chips won’t protect you from having card information swiped online or during a data breach, so it’s important to monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraud. You can also monitor your credit if you have reason to believe your personal information fell into the wrong hands. You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com. Signs your identity may have been stolen include a sudden drop in credit scores or unfamiliar accounts on your credit report.
More on Credit Cards:
- Credit.com’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
- An Expert Guide to Credit Cards With Rewards