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In The Spotlight

Security Tips Regarding Skimmers

Criminals can easily capture your credit and debit card information with small devices called skimmers. Although skimming can happen almost anywhere you use your card, you can prevent losing your data to a skimmer.


Start by managing your card settings with your financial institution. Most offer a way for you to control where your card can be used. For instance, you can set parameters that limit high-total purchases or request notification by text or email if your card is used online (rather than in person at a store).

Here are a few other ways to stay safe:

·         Study the card reader. Go ahead and jiggle or shake the card reader before using it. Skimmers are often not securely attached, and moving it around could release and expose it.

·         Cover the keypad with your hand. That's a good policy even if you don't notice anything odd about the ATM. Obtaining the PIN is essential, since the criminals generally can't use the stolen magnetic stripe data without it

·         Give your card a glance. Scratches, markings or stickiness left on your card after swiping are all signs that your card may have been tampered with.

·         Track your balances. Monitor your account balances to avoid being blindsided by an overdraft or unauthorized purchase. By adjusting notification services, you can be informed if an attempt is made to charge over an allotted amount.

·         Dip your chip. Using the chip reader, instead of swiping the magnetic strip, significantly lessens the chance of fraud. If your card doesn’t have a chip, request one from your financial institution.

·         Consider cash. At the pump, pay for your gas inside or with an attendant. For other purchases, sign and save your receipts until you’re able to verify purchases on your next statement.

If you find a skimmer or confirm that you’ve been a victim of one, first call your financial institution to let them know when and where you think it happened. Cancel your card and request a replacement, and follow up by email to further document your claim.

From there, place an initial fraud alert on your card. A fraud alert requires businesses to contact you before issuing credit in your name for up to 90 days.

Filing a police report and alerting the Federal Trade Commission are also good practices. The FTC works to prevent skimming rings and catching crooks that skim.

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