Be Careful for Credit Card Skimmer

Be Careful for Credit Card Skimmer

Skimming credit cards and debit cards is not new. Portable card readers make it possible for anyone to copy the information stored on a card’s magnetic stripe. This information is not encrypted so it’s easy to steal.


“You just run it through the skimmer and it has all the information right there in plain text,” says former White House cyber security advisor Howard Schmidt. “It’s very easy to imprint that data on another magnetic strip and use it somewhere else.”


The first skimming cases were reported at restaurants and stores where dishonest employees ran cards through their reader before ringing up the sale. As technology improved, the bad guys developed skimmers for ATMs. Now they’ve added gas pumps.

The skimmers are designed to slip over the real card reader. They can be hard to spot. And quite frankly, most of us would never look for something like this anyway. We want to pay and go.


So how do they get your PIN number? They can hide a little camera in the skimmer or on the pump. It shows your fingers as you type in the number.


There are also fake keypads that slip over the real keypad that can transmit the PIN code as you enter it.


In Las Vegas, police have discovered even more sophisticated technology – wireless transmitters installed inside the pump. “They can actually sit in the parking lot with a laptop and get real-time information as victims use their card,” explains Lt. Robert Sebby of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Because there’s nothing on the outside of the pump, there’s no way you can tell the pump is compromised.

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