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Are You On the Lookout for Payment Card Skimmers?

by | Sep 30, 2019 | MyTek Blog, Technology


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These days consumers rarely make cash transactions. Instead, they rely on credit and debit cards for payments. However, digital payments come with their own set of challenges. Payment card skimmers are one of them.

Today, MyTek will explain the IT security challenges of payment card skimming in detail.

What is Payment Skimming?

Did you know that most people hardly verify their credit card transactions? They are satisfied with the hassle-free swiping of the card to buy goods. This behavior can attract IT security risks in the form of skimming.

Payment card skimmers are a type of security breach in which an attacker discreetly steals consumers’ credit card information. Here, the attacker withdraws a small amount of money from multiple victims rather than a lump sum amount from a single victim. This fraud can go undetected as the attacker targets a large number of transactions. Usually, the victims do not notice a small change in the debited amount.

How does the attacker carry out payment skimming? They install a skimming device on the credit card/debit card swipe portal. After a card swipe, the personal information of the user is extracted. Then, the criminal uses these credentials to make a fraudulent purchase with a duplicate card. Even the Dark Web could become a platform for selling your credit card information.

These skimming devices are usually installed on ATMs, gas pumps or can operate wirelessly. Here are a few tips to spot skimming practices.

How to Prevent Skimming?

You can adopt different strategies to protect yourself from skimming attacks. The cards have some inbuilt security features to protect your transaction. For example, many cards have computer chips that contain data, rather than having a magnetic strip. Computer chips offer more security. 

A new law was introduced in 2015 to prevent payment skimming. According to this law, any store that does not use the chip payment method will be held liable in case of any fraud. Hence, this ruling ensured that the business owners updated their POS infrastructure.

Do not assume that all your ATM transactions are safe. Even though payment skimming may not be common in your area, you cannot rule it out.

You can keep these tips in mind to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of payment skimming attacks.

Monitor Your Swiping Environment

Where you swipe is essential to understand the vulnerability to payment skimming. ATMs near gas stations are more prone to attacks as criminals can easily attach a skimming device. But, ATMs in a banking environment are difficult to break into due to surveillance and security. Also, see if you are paying ATM charges for using an ATM in your own bank.

Go for Touchless Payments

These days payments are increasingly becoming touchless. You can make payments via mobile or wireless cards. With touchless payments, the magnetic strip of your card never comes in contact with a skimming device.

Keep Your Card at a Visible Distance

Keep a close eye on your cards. That doesn’t mean you need to follow an official till the POS machine. It is better to avoid any situation wherein your card needs to be taken away. They might unknowingly swipe your card against a skimming device when you’re in a crowd.

Track Your Transactions

Use all the security features offered by your bank. Most banks provide SMS notifications. You will receive a text notification after every transaction. If you suddenly receive a message that you purchased something from Starbucks while you’re sitting at home, you could be a victim of a card skimmers. 

Always keep the above tips in mind to safeguard your hard-earned money. For more information on how you can protect your money, subscribe to our Phoenix IT services blog.


Tim - Team

Tim Tiller, LMSW

Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.


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