Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
Hand holding a credit card with "Avoid Card Skimmers" text overlayed
January 4, 2023

What is Skimming? Protecting Yourself from Card Skimmers

Sometimes, getting scammed might include getting skimmed. That’s when your credit or debit card information gets stolen by an illegal card reader called a skimmer. According to the FBI, it’s estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year.*

What is a skimmer?

A skimmer is a device illegally attached to an ATM, gas station pump or point-of-sale (POS) system that’s designed to gather customer card information and PINs. Criminals can use the stolen card information to make fraudulent purchases online, create replica cards to use, or sell the information to other criminals.

How to stay safe from skimmers

Because card skimmers aren’t always obvious to spot, you can’t avoid them with absolute certainty. But you can reduce your risk of getting skimmed with a few tips from the FBI:

  1. Before using an ATM or paying at the gas pump, observe the keypad and card slot. If anything looks strange, tampered with or out of place, avoid using that machine. For example, if the keypad looks brand new but the rest of the machine looks old, or the credit card slot is a completely different color than the rest of the machine, those are potential indications of a problem.
  2. Gas stations are frequent targets for skimmers, so it’s a good idea to choose a pump that is in view of the attendant, which is less likely to be a target for a skimming device.
  3. For added safety, choose to run your debit card as credit whenever possible and consider paying inside rather than at the pump.
  4. Regularly monitor account activity on your credit and debit cards and review your monthly statements. That way, if a skimmer ever does capture your card information, you can identify the fraud quickly, report it and get a new card number issued.

Remember, you’re never liable for unauthorized purchases that are properly reported on your Grow Visa® credit or debit cards. If you notice fraudulent activity on your account, report it immediately by calling us at 800.839.6328. Learn more about skimming.

*Scams and Safety: Skimming. Accessed December 14, 2022.

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