Menomonie (WQOW) - Do you know how to spot a credit card skimmer? Knowing what to look for can save you both time and money.
The Menomonie Police Department is reporting several cases of credit card skimmers in the area, and is providing tips to keep you safe from thieves.
How do you spot a skimmer?
An overlay skimmer is one that fits over the card reader and made to look like the part it's covering. However, it might not be the same quality or color as the rest of the machine and it may appear to not quite fit. Photos 4/5 show a card skimmer that was place on top of the ATM card reader.
You can also check for additions to the machine that could hide a camera pointed at the keypad. This is often how criminals steal PIN numbers (photos 2/3).
What can you do?
Take a second at a gas pump or ATM and look around. Does the terminal you are using look like the other payment terminals in the area? Does the credit card slot or PIN pad look loose or out of place? Try tugging at the card reader to feel if it is wiggly or a different size than it should be. Other signs of a potential skimmer is if the flashing light in the reader is not as bright or if the area on the bottom right is dark (photo 4).
Use a chipped card! Chipped, or “EMV,” cards are becoming more common and they are much more adept at protecting your data from criminals because the data on the card is constantly changing and is difficult to extract.
Monitor your bank accounts for any odd or unusually large charges. Set up text or email alerts to send to your phone or email when charges hit your account - such as purchases made without a card swipe, or gas station purchases - allowing you to be immediately aware of any potential fraudulent withdrawals.