How to Protect Yourself from Online Skimming

Online shopping and paying online for various transactions are common practices. However, sharing the credit/debit card details online poses problems for the customers as sometimes they become a target of skimming. Do not think that your Internet service provider has something to do with it. As many people tend to believe this. I am guilty of doing the same for my Cox Gigablast package. However, I realized that the company was not responsible at all. If you wish to avoid any such attack, here is your detailed guide.

What is Skimmer?

protection from online skimming

For those of you who did not know, a skimmer is a machine that steals the information from someone’s payment card when they use it for transactions. These transactions can take place anywhere. From ATMs to gas stations. Therefore, you have to be careful while making payments through your cards.

There is a little twist here as well. Until now the term skimming only referred to the use of hardware to steal the card information. However, recently, the term also became popular for malicious software that does the same on e-commerce websites. Whatever the case may be, skimming is a fraud.

In case you are wondering how the people involved in this benefit. Then you should know that they use the information to clone cards or perform online transactions that do not need physical cards.

How do the Skimming Devices Operate?

The most popular question that arises in many peoples’ minds is how do these machines operate? You will get an answer to this here. As far as the physical skimmers are concerned, they are designed in a way that they fit into specific models of ATMs. Not only that, but one can even fit them into self-checkout machines or any other payment terminals that there might be. The worst part is that users cannot detect them. Well, that is where the problem starts as well.

Moving on, these machines have several components. For example, a card-reading component, and a small camera. These components enable the people to perform such frauds to get a copy of all the information that is on your card. Apart from that, the camera allows them to get hold of the PIN too. Thus, making it easy for them to use your information for making transactions.

What are the Skimmer Variations?

Now that many countries are using the chip-enabled debit/credit cards, new skimmers have been introduced. So, now the slim versions available can easily fit into the card slot of the new machines. You can call this method a deep insert. There is a name for these devices too – call them shimmers. Apart from this, inserting skimmers in the ATMs is still a popular option. If you are wondering who all the people who insert these are, then the answer is corrupt technicians.

How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Skimming?

There is no one answer to this. As there are many variations of skimmers. So, you would need to know of multiple ways to protect yourself.

  • Avoid Using ATMs in Some Areas

You should not opt for using an ATM if you find it outside a building or it is somewhere in a poorly lit area. Because it becomes easy for the people to insert machines in such ATMs. And rightfully so. Because criminals will not opt for an ATM where there is huge foot traffic. As they can get caught easily. Also, they would want to avoid ATMs that have too many security cameras pointing at them.

However, it is not that criminals do not install skimmers in most commonly used ATMs at all. They adopt a different strategy to target machines in such areas. And the weekend is their favorite time to do so.

  • Wiggle the Card Reader

You should aim at wiggling or tugging the PIN pad or the card reader when you use the machine. In case it comes off or moves, you would know what the problem is. Because criminals do not make use of the finest quality glue to attach the pad or reader back after inserting the skimmer. Thus, making it easy for you to detect if there is an issue.

  • Cover the PIN Pad

You should also make a conscious effort to cover the PIN pad with your hand. So, that even if the camera is pointing towards you, no one will be able to guess your PIN code. The criminal will then have access to one part of the information and not the other.

  • Put a Limit

Check it with your bank if they allow you to limit the amount of money that you spend on any single day. Doing so will ensure that even if the criminal gets hold of the information, he won’t be able to withdraw a hefty amount.

However, know that in many cases if any such issue occurs, the bank takes responsibility. All you would have to do is contact the helpline. Just like I do for every issue. My Internet service provider and the bank can vouch for how many calls I make. But calling Cox Customer Service number is always my first step in case the issue can be resolved by them. And the same goes for my bank.

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