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What Is Card Skimming? Here’s How To Prevent the Rising Crime


Apr 26, 2023
What Is Card Skimming? Here's How To Prevent the Rising Crime


Card skimming is the practice where devices are installed on ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or fuel pumps to capture data or record cardholders’ PINs to open fake accounts and steal victims’ funds.

According to the FBI, skimming costs victims and banks nearly $1 billion annually – and the practice is on the rise.

A new report from data analytics company FICO (the company’s “FICO score” product is used in consumer lending) found that, in 2022, there was an alarming 368% increase in debit card skimming compared to 2021.

“These statistics point to an issue that isn’t going away,” Debbie Cobb, senior director of product management at FICO, wrote in the report. “Unfortunately, we expect to see high volumes of skimming points of compromise (POCs) and compromised cards this year as well.”

The data also found that, of all the points of compromise, 75% were newly installed in 2022, indicating that skimming has expanded over the past year and that trend is likely to continue.

A former “skimmer,” Michael Perez, told CBS that in just three days of skimming he could steal up to $30,000.

Related: 5 Biggest Credit Card Scams and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Moneka Williams, a victim of skimming in South Florida, told the outlet that her SNAP card — a federal program that offers individuals in need a monthly amount to purchase necessities — had been compromised.

“I told the clerk to scan it again, and it was a zero balance,” she told CBS. Skimmers had drained her $800 balance.

While card skimming continues to sweep the nation, there are several ways to try to prevent it:

  • The FBI suggests using a gas pump that is in direct view of a store attendant, as those sites are less likely to be targeted for fraudsters to install a skimmer.
  • When using ATMs or POS terminals, look for anything suspicious on the machine and don’t use if anything is loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched.
  • Run your debit card as a credit card, as skimmers won’t be able to collect your PIN. If not possible, cover the keypad when entering your pin to prevent hidden cameras from recording the digits.

Related: 10 Credit Card Scams Happening Right Now

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