Recently, the Sun-Sentinel reported on the increasing use of credit card skimmers, particularly at gas stations.  According to that reporting, more than 200 skimmers were already found in South Florida in the first four months of 2018: 112 in Broward, 54 in Palm Beach and 18 in Miami-Dade. Based on the current projections, by the end of the year more than 1,000 gas pumps will be found to have credit card skimmers. The skimming scam is not just isolated to gas stations. There have been reports of credit card skimming at ATMs, restaurants and other popular places that people use debit or credit cards.
Despite its name, credit card skimming affects debit cards as well. The skimming scam involves the installation of a device that copies the debit or credit card information when it is inserted. These devices are made to look like a part of the ATMs, gas pumps and other machines so as not to raise suspicion. This is commonly coupled with a small camera that is trained on the keypad and records the pin numbers for debit cardholders. In the case of restaurants and other places in which your credit or debit card is temporarily outside of the cardholders’ observation, the card information may actually be skimmed by the waiter, waitresses, or other service staff who have been recruited to be part of the skimming scam.
While there is no 100 fool-proof way to prevent credit or debit card skimming, there are steps that cardholders’ can take to protect themselves such as:
- Review your transaction history and statements in detail regularly. This may help to quickly identify charges or transactions that are fraudulent. Do not only pay attention to high dollar items! It is best to review all charges and reach out to the relevant financial institution immediately if there are unfamiliar charges or transactions.
- Be cautious about how and where you use your card. For ATMs and gas station pumps, the credit card skimmers may jut out past the credit card slot or may be sloppily attached to the machine. In the case of gas station pumps, it might be prudent to use the machines closest to the store or to actually make your purchases in the store. The idea here is that thieves may be less inclined to install credit card skimmers on the machines closest to the store because they run the risk of being seen by the gas station attendants.
- Fighting back using technology. Credit card skimming scams take advantage of technology, but technology may also help cardholders to fight back. While they are not 100% effective, there are certain available phone apps that can be used to search for credit card skimmers.
If you have been a victim of a credit card skimming scam, you are not responsible for the fraudulent charges. However, you must act quickly upon discovering the fraudulent charges and inform your financial institution of the fraud. It is also very important to obtain a police report, even if it is just an informational report. Furthermore, section 605 B of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) allows you to block any information on your credit report that is as a result of identity theft. If the financial institution is holding you liable for fraudulent charges or transactions, it may be in violation of certain laws, including the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
For more information about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, please visit our website at https://www.fight13.com/practice-areas/debt-collection-harassment-and-abuse-fdcpa/.
Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 1,800 homes from foreclosure, eliminated $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have collected millions of dollars on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations, negligence and fraud. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we may be able to help you.