Skimming Scam

A skimming scam involves the theft of credit card information by an electronic device [skimmer] when the card is being swiped.

There are two common situations where it occurs. One involves attaching card reading devices to ATMs [over the card slot], usually to card reading slots, and having a hidden camera aimed at the key pad. When a customer inserts their card into the ATM machine, the skimmer extracts the information off the magnetic stripe and sends it to the criminals usually sitting in a car nearby.

The hidden pinhole camera is used to capture the PIN number, or they will stand close by and watch you enter your PIN number.

The other situation involves a dishonest employee, usually working for a legitimate merchant. When your credit card is used to pay for a service or merchandise, the information on card is stolen either photocopying receipts, or using a small electronic device (skimmer) to swipe and store hundreds of victim’s credit card numbers. Common scenarios for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of the victim's credit card out of their immediate view.

The thief may also use a small keypad to unobtrusively copy the 3 or 4 digit Card Security Code which is not present on the magnetic strip.

The recorded information is then used to create a duplicate card with your bank details, giving the criminal access to the same accounts you access from your card.

Red Flags of a Skimming Scam

  • You notice something suspicious about the card slot on an ATM [an attached device]
  • You are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine
  • The shop assistant takes your card out of your sight to process the transaction
  • You notice the shop assistant swipe your card through a different machine to the one you used
  • You notice unauthorized transaction on your credit card or account statement

How to Protect Yourself from a Skimming Scam

skimming scam
  • Try to swipe your card through the terminal yourself
  • If an ATM machine looks unusual or different, don't use it
  • If a shop assistant swipes your card, get it back straight away and try to not let it out of your sight
  • Check your credit card and bank statements regularly and report any suspicious transaction to your bank
  • If you think you have been skimmed, contact your bank and cancel your card
  • Use the guidelines for credit cards to avoid a skimming scam

Your PIN Number

  • Use different PIN numbers for different cards
  • Memorize your PIN and don't write it down
  • When entering your PIN into a machine, ensure nobody can see what you are entering
  • Don't choose a PIN that would be easy to guess
  • Don't tell anybody your PIN

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