avoid card skimming

Your business suddenly receives complaints of credit card fraud. After carefully inspecting your credit card terminal, you discover proof of tampering! An unidentified thief, maybe even an employee, put a skimmer on your terminal.

Thieves employ skimmers to steal your customer’s credit card data. They place a look-alike device at your POS terminals. It doesn’t just happen at gas stations anymore. And it often goes undetected on credit card terminals that aren’t closely monitored. These devices can mimic your business’ POS device with widely-available 3D-printing technology. Protect your customers and your business and learn how to identify and avoid card skimming theft.


Spotting Card Skimmers

Although EMV (chip) cards have been a significant boon in the fight against card skimming, thieves have engineered similar devices for chip card readers. Known as “shimming,” they fit a paper-thin device between the chip and the chip reader, then using the terminal to mine the data. As traditional magstripe cards fade from use, expect to see more shimming.

Apps are being developed that can detect a skimmer. Because thieves steal credit card information by using a Bluetooth module, these skimmers aren’t very secure. They all use the same, easy-to-detect Bluetooth module. According to ZDNet, these apps can usually detect the module within a few feet of the user, and alert local authorities.

The next most crucial step to avoid card skimming scams is thorough employee background checks. Don’t skip this critical step in your interview and hiring process, relying only on the applicant’s references. Also look into their criminal records.


How to Spot a Skimming Device

Card skimming devices are usually tiny and mimic a part of your credit card terminal. Although thieves attempt to manufacture skimmers to look like part of the machine, many times the devices don’t match the color or material.

  • Look for anything that protrudes, looks off-center or doesn’t match the color of the rest of the machine. If it seems suspicious, wiggle it to see if it’s loose and doesn’t fit correctly.
  • If your terminal also accepts debit cards with PIN pad entry, look for an overlay on top of the pad. This is designed to grab the data from the PIN pad.
  • If your business uses standalone card terminals, such as gas stations, vending machines, and ATMs, check the surrounding area for any tiny holes. Some thieves will install pinhole cameras to capture data.


You’ve Been Skimmed!

As skimming becomes more advanced, thieves get savvier and can get into a machine to grab the data internally.  It’s getting increasingly difficult for business owners to recognize tampering.

If you suspect your business has fallen victim to a credit card skimming or shimming scam:

  • Stop running cards immediately, and report the incident to the local police right away.
  • Call and report the fraudulent charges to your credit card processing company.

Due to changing laws regarding liability issues and stolen credit cards, a business isn’t liable for fraudulent charges in most cases.  However, the ill-will and mistrust that a consumer may feel toward the business could ultimately affect your bottom line. Stay on top of this problem by regularly checking your terminals and even considering hiring a company to monitor security issues for you.

Photo: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain