Credit Card Skimming All accountants would agree, one of the most important things for you to do, is protect your financial assets. Often we forget that we are only one swipe away from being scammed out of our money at the gas pump, restaurants, and ATM machines. “How is this possible?”, you may ask. A fraudulent tactic called credit card skimming allows this to happen. What is Credit Card Skimming? Not be confused with a the occupational fraud of skimming, which is taking money from your boss before it’s recorded in the books, credit card skimming is used by thieves to steal credit and debit card information. Sometimes, trusting an unscrupulous server at a restaurant can lead to your account information getting stolen. When you go out to dinner, it is not uncommon to hand your credit card to a server who charges it at a cash register out of your sight. Think about that. When is there ever a better time for your information to get stolen? In addition, skimming frequently occurs at public ATM’s and gas pumps. Your information can even be stolen when nobody is in sight.  There are two parts to this magic trick for thieves who want to achieve this. First, they retrieve card information by installing a fake electronic card reader on top of the original reader. Many times the fake card reader appears real to the victim using the machine. Second, scammers need your pin#. They acquire this information by placing a small camera over the place where you insert your card. Do a quick google images search of card skimmers to educate yourself on the appearances of the machines rigged with ATM skimmers. What can thieves do with your card information? Thieves will use your card to purchase items online or even go as far to sell the information on the dark web. How can you avoid getting scammed by skimmers? There is no way to completely avoid having your information stolen; however, there are ways to lower the risk. Make sure to check your bank and credit card accounts on a regular basis. Scan them for irregular transactions that you might not have made. Be wary of ATM machines and other types of self-checkout methods. Criminals set up skimming machines in hopes that unsuspecting individuals will fall into their trap. To air on the cautious side, get cash from your bank teller instead of going to an ATM machine. If you happen to fall victim to a skimming attempt, make sure to contact your bank or credit card company and ask to put a freeze on your account as soon as possible.  Being proactive about the situation can save much headache down the road. By: John Eichelberger, Staff Accountant, Onisko & Scholz