Skimming Accounts Becoming More Problematic

When a card is skimmed, information associated with the card, like the account number, is electronically stored in the recording device.

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A trip to the gas station or the ATM could result in a major headache down the road. Scammers have found a way to access banking information off of your credit and debit cards.

Although the scam is not new to Sioux Falls, in fact two ATMs have already been targeted; scammers have been able to steal your information with fewer red flag.

When a card is skimmed, information associated with the card, like the account number, is electronically stored in the recording device. This device is similar to buildings that require a card swipe to authenticate the user.

Because the technology seems unnoticeable, it’s what you don’t notice that could ruin your credit and leave you broke.

Jessie Schmidt is the director of the Better Business Bureau of South Dakota. She says that it has become too easy for scammers to obtain the encoders.

“They are not very expensive to acquire and they are very easy to put on and install.”

The technology associated with the encoder is similar to that used on colleges or universities. Where students have all their academic information stored to a card. That card, lined with a magnetic strip, grants access to campus sites, says Dakota Wesleyan IT Director, Matt Moore.

“While the stakes are higher with consumers, the technology to record your information is used all the time,” Moore says.  

It’s just now, more hidden.

It just kind of slides over what your credit card reader would already be,” says Schmidt.

So, how simple is it for someone to add the device to a machine, like an ATM, and then create the card? Moore says it’s too easy.

“A device like this is used to put that information onto the card. It can also be used to read it.”

Then all the scammer needs, is a computer, a couple blank cards, and the next thing you know ‘you’ just spent $5,000 on someone else’s shopping spree.

But there is hope.

Schmidt says pay close attention to the places you frequent.

“If it looks different than you remember, you know it’s a skimmer.”

By October all banks and credit institutions will be updating the magnetic strip cards to a chip and pin design. Something retailers have been resistant to change.

Both Moore and Schmidt agree that updating ATMs and retail swipe kiosks is an expensive feat. But it is something needed to keep proprietary information off of the streets.

Schmidt says that you can’t stop it from happening, but you can decrease your chance of it happening to you if you take some cautious steps.

She recommends hiding your pin number as you type it on the keypad. Often times, these encoders will have a camera attached to them.  Also, check your bank and credit statements regularly. What is often the case, is the criminal will purchase a very inexpensive item – something like a candy bar or soft drink. He or she will do this to see if the card had been reported lost or stolen.