Protect Your Cards from Skimmers

convenience store, gas station, debit card purchase, debit card, credit card, card skimmer, how to spot card skimmers

Many people enjoy the ease and convenience of using debit and credit cards to access their money. However, thieves may also attempt to steal your card information to access your money using a method known as “skimming.” Skimmers are electronic devices hidden on point-of-purchase machines, most often at ATMs and gas pumps, but also in convenience stores at the register.

As part of our commitment to protecting the safety and security of our members, Robins Financial Credit Union constantly monitors our ATMs to check for skimming devices. But when using alternative ATMs or other point-of-purchase machines, there are tell-tale signs you can look out for to help you identify and avoid skimmers.

What is Skimming?

Skimming devices capture your card data from the card’s magnetic strip, so they are usually hidden where your card is inserted. Your PIN number is also needed for criminals to access the information on your card, so there are often cameras concealed somewhere on the point-of-purchase machine or ATM that record you as you input your PIN number on the machine’s keypad.

How Do I Spot a Skimmer?

Skimming devices can be difficult to detect; they are designed to look identical to the actual card reader and keypad so that unsuspecting users unknowingly grant access to their card data with one single swipe. Always be sure to inspect the point-of-purchase machine inside the convenience store or the card reader and keypad at the gas pump or ATM before inserting your card, and never use a machine that appears to have been tampered with.

You can identify an altered machine before you initiate your purchase by looking for any parts that appear loose, crooked, damaged, out of place, or even that are different colors from the rest of the machine. Give the card reader a quick pull or wiggle to make sure it’s secure. Take note if the card reader or the keypad appear bulky or protrude from the rest of the machine, as that could indicate a false part has been placed over the actual reader or keypad. Be wary if they keypad feels too thick and the buttons are difficult to press, or if your card has difficulty sliding in and out of the card reader. Check the screen to make sure it isn’t loose, and that the graphics are properly aligned. Never use a machine that has tape or glue residue on any parts of the machine, or that has anything hanging from it such as loose wires.

What if I Find a Skimming Device?

If you notice any of the warning signs listed above when inspecting the machine before or during use, do not use that machine. Notify the owner of the machine or store immediately, and contact local police so they can investigate.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Skimmed?

Contact us immediately if you suspect fraudulent activity on your card. You can instantly report your card as stolen within Digital Banking and turn your card off within the Card Guard app to deactivate your card until we issue you a new one.

Additional Tips

One of the best ways you can identify an ATM or keypad that has been tampered with is to compare it to another machine nearby. If you notice any obvious differences, like if one machine has a blinking light where you insert your card and the other one is not flashing, do not use that machine.

Do not enter your PIN when you are at the gas station, whether you are inside the convenience store or at the gas pump; instead, run the transaction as a credit transaction. The register should prompt you to select debit or credit when making your purchase; you do not have to enter your PIN when you select to run the transaction as credit. If you are not given the option and the machine prompts you to enter your PIN, simply press the “enter” button without entering your PIN. Remember, the skimmers need your PIN in order to access your card information, so one of the best ways you can protect yourself is by not entering your PIN at these machines. When you do have to enter your PIN on the keypad, always protect your PIN by using your other hand to shield the keypad.

ATMs at financial institutions have better protections in place than privately-owned ATMs. Even if you are unable to use a Robins Financial ATM, using an ATM at another credit union or bank will ensure an added layer of protection. Use our location search tool to find a nearby ATM within our network of secure surcharge-free ATMS. Scammers prefer to stay out of view when installing and collecting their devices, so find an ATM in a well-lit area within public view, as these are less likely to have been tampered with and are more likely to have security cameras.

Even when following all possible precautions, card fraud still happens. When in doubt, check your account! Monitor your account activity anytime, anywhere using Digital Banking and use our Card Guard app to remotely manage all aspects of your cards. Set alerts to be notified instantly of your account activity. This way you will be able to notice any fraudulent activity right away and you can report it immediately.

Robins Financial Credit Union is committed to keeping our members safe. To find out more about how we protect our members every day, give us a call or stop by any of our branch locations.

Did you enjoy this video? Subscribe to our YouTube Channel.