Paying groceries at the supermarket, dinner at a restaurant, withdrawing cash from the ATM... Your bank cards undoubtedly play an important role in how you manage your personal finances. That’s why it’s important to understand how to use them properly and avoid falling victim to illegal practices like skimming.
Although it’s becoming increasingly common to pay through electronic wallets or contactless methods by means of mobile phones, smart bracelets or watches, the reality is that credit cards and debit cards are one of the most used options when making payments. Both in physical stores and online.
One of the characteristics of bank cards is that, in addition to the data printed on the card itself –name, card number, expiry date or CVV code (card verification value) – this information is also stored in the magnetic stripe and the chip. In fact, there is a criminal practice designed to retrieve such customer payment details and transfer it to a fake card, or directly use it for fraudulent transactions, known as “skimming”.
As the word “skim” means “to read quickly”, criminals use various devices, known as skimmers, to steal data without the victim even realising it. This is usually carried out when making transactions at an ATM or paying at a point-of-sale (POS) terminal that has been tampered with beforehand.
Once criminals have obtained the bank card details, they can make purchases, hire services or withdraw money, among other transactions. They also can sell the information on the black market for a third party to carry out the fraud. These fraudsters also on several occasions make small purchases to avoid easy detection. This method is known as carding and, if you want to learn more about how it works, you can read about it in this Openbank article.
What is e-skimming?
It is a variation of the traditional form of skimming that captures information from online payment methods instead of stealing data from physical cards. In this case, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws in e-commerce platforms, use malware or trick victims with techniques, such as phishing, to gain access to data.
How to protect yourself against skimming
Without a doubt, learning about the different types of skimming is a good start. That way you can be alert and know how to identify anything abnormal that may occur when you make transactions with your bank cards. The following tips will help you better protect yourself against this type of crime:
Any other measures you can implement to keep your bank card information safe will mean greater security for your transactions. When it comes to protecting yourself and your money, every step counts to avoid falling victim to fraud such as skimming.