Scammers are installing “skimmers,” or devices that collect the data from credit, debit or ATM cards, on these machines. We are not saying you should not use self-checkout lanes but just be cautious when doing so.
This is how the scam works. You ring up your purchases and swipe your credit or debit card to pay the bill. You may not notice anything strange about the card processor; however, scammers may have attached a skimmer to some registers. These devices “skim” your card’s information from the magnetic strip.
Skimmers are most commonly installed on ATM card readers. However, more recently big box stores have found them attached to the payment processors in self-checkout aisles.
According to the BBB, here are some suggestions as to how you can protect yourself from a skimmer:
• Pay with a credit card or cash. You aren’t liable for fraudulent charges on your CREDIT card; however be sure to report them to your credit card server. Should scammers gain your DEBIT CARD info, they may be able to drain your account.
• Protect your pin. Place your hand or a piece of paper over the keyboard when entering your number. Some scammers set up a video camera nearby to record customers entering their PINs.
• Look for signs of skimmers. Tape is often used to attach the skimming devices; if something looks odd, wiggle it to make sure it doesn’t come loose
• Use chip readers when available. The new credit/debit card processors which require you to “dip” a chip card instead of swipe the magnetic strip — are more secure.
• Watch for signs. Some con artists attach signs to ATMs or card processors providing alternate instructions, such as telling users to swipe their card on a separate reader first. If something looks out of the ordinary, find a different machine and report it to the store management or the police.
Dreama Jensen is area director of the Better Business Bureau serving northern Indiana. Contact the BBB at 574-675-9351 or visit www.bbb.org.
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