The PA Department of Banking and Securities advises holiday shoppers to be especially watchful for fraudulent card skimming devices, which can be attached to ATM machines, gas pumps, or other payment processing machines in retail stores.
Criminals can place card skimmers over authentic card readers. These skimmers allow criminals to steal credit or debit card data by reading the information contained on the card when it is swiped or inserted. Often combined with a concealed camera, thieves can also record your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
With this information, thieves can withdraw money from the victim’s bank account and make unauthorized purchases. Additionally, the thieves may sell this information to others.
Chris Cortes, the Chief Operations Officer at Erie Federal Credit Union says to report any suspicious activity on your credit or debit card as soon as you notice it, no matter how large or small the amount. Cortes adds to frequently check your statement to make sure all the transactions are approved.
Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann advises consumers to take six steps to protect themselves:
· Use ATMs in well-lit, secure locations and avoid using ATMs that are stand-alone units in corners of stores or other out-of-the-way locations.
· Look at the card reader slot and surrounding areas to see if anything looks out of place, mismatched, or loose.
· Make sure no one is watching you enter your PIN (or on their phone nearby, possibly filming you).
· Consider using your credit card instead of your debit card to avoid compromising your PIN and to gain other consumer protections.
· Choose gas pumps that are closer to and within the line of vision of the cashiers.
· Check your bank and credit card statements frequently to watch for fraudulent activity and report any unfamiliar activity immediately.