During a routine maintenance check, a service technician recently found credit card skimmers on five out of eight gas pumps at a Greenville, SC convenience store. While skimmers have been around for more than a decade and countless warnings have been issued, stories like this still manage to catch us by surprise.
Now that school’s out and many of us are hitting the road for a family vacation, it seems like the perfect time to share a few reminders about protecting yourself against financial fraud and identity theft.
SC Telco’s Summertime Travel Tips
Of the estimated 100 million American families planning to take a vacation this year, almost two-thirds will travel during the summer. That means increased traffic at gas stations, convenience stores, and ATMs. Before you swipe your credit or debit card, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If possible, pick a gas station with newer pumps. Older pumps are easier targets for criminals to install skimmers.
- Inspect the card slot for any loose or suspicious parts. Take an extra second to physically inspect the card reader. If it wiggles, moves, or pulls off completely, do not swipe your card. Report it to the store attendant, and pay inside.
In-store Payment Machines
- While point-of-sale machines are more difficult to compromise, experienced scam artists can attach skimmers in a matter of seconds.
- Before swiping your card, inspect the machine in the same manner recommended for gas pump card readers.
- If your card has an EMV chip, insert your card instead of swiping it whenever possible.
- Be on the lookout for hidden cameras. Since ATM use requires a PIN, fraudsters will often use small cameras along with skimmers so they can record PIN entries.
- Whether there’s a camera or not, it’s always a good idea to shield the keypad as you enter your PIN.
- Be sure to check the keypad as well. Some thieves will place fake keypads over the ATM keypad in order to record your keystrokes. As with card readers, if it moves, wiggles, or looks suspicious, do not use it. Report it to the bank or credit union branch, and complete your transaction elsewhere.
Whether you’re traveling or staying at home this summer, smart card usage is always important. But as an SC Telco member, you can rest a little easier knowing that your My Mobile Money app makes it easy to manage your card, monitor transactions, and receive fraud alerts anytime, anywhere—even when you’re on vacation!