‘Tis the season; watch out for card skimming

This time of year, people are out shopping, paying for gas, and generally using their debit and credit cards more than usual. This is an opportunity time for thieves, and one way they take advantage is by card skimming. Card skimming is used at terminals that accept debit and credit cards using a chip reader and swiping method.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

What thieves do is create a dummy reader that is placed over the existing card reader, and that reader is what steals your information. These dummy readers are well done and pass for the real deal. Even if they are not well done, most people hardly give it a second thought when buying gas or swiping at a convenience store counter.

Police in Boston are warning consumers of card skimming devices found at several 7-Eleven locations already. Criminals will use the card information gathered to make their purchases online until the card is drained or stopped by the bank or credit card company.

Some skimming devices work by using a tiny camera to record footage of victims entering their PIN numbers, while others emulate keypads and capture PIN numbers that way. Some target the card numbers themselves, rather than PIN numbers.


An example of a card skimmer can be seen in the Tweet below, but they take on many other forms, including ones on ATMs and gas pumps.

Boston is likely not the only city affected by card skimming, this is a common method used by criminals across the country. I always give the card readers at gas pumps a little tug to ensure they are legit and not simply glued or taped on. Awareness is the best defense, and sometimes it can be challenging.

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Last Updated on December 23, 2022.

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