The Rise of Card Skimming and How to Fight It
As a part of the USC Credit Union family, we share a bond that goes beyond banking. In today's digital era, this bond also includes safeguarding our personal and financial data. ATM skimming is a persistent and evolving threat, but by being aware and taking preventative measures, we can fight against compromised cards and protect our financial well-being.
What Is Card Skimming?
Card skimming is a tactic criminals use to obtain sensitive information from debit, credit, and ATM cards. To do so, they install covert devices on card-reading machines such as ATMs or other point-of-sale terminals. These devices capture and store data from the magnetic stripe on the back of the card, allowing thieves to clone the card and make unauthorized transactions.
Not Just ATMs
While USC Credit Union implements security measures to protect your data, skimmers can target any point-of-sale machines, putting all cardholders at risk regardless of their banking institution. Skimming can occur at seemingly unsuspecting places, not just ATMs. These include gas stations, retail systems, and public transportation ticket machines.
By the Numbers: Skimming Statistics
FICO reported a 77% increase in the number of cards impacted in the first half of 2023, totaling 120,000 cards, a staggering 77% increase from 20221. Here are some other numbers of concern:
- 3,000 unique financial institutions that were affected by a skimming attack in 20222.
- 368% - the increase in compromised cards from 2021 – 20222.
- 185+ number of cards per skimming attack in 20222.
Signs to Look Out For
If you suspect that a USC Credit Union ATM has been tampered with, notify a member specialist in the nearest branch or contact us immediately so we can investigate.
If something looks off, like an added bulk or a mismatched color, use another machine and alert the servicer.
Skimmers often overlay the actual card reader with another device. Give it a wiggle before using it, and make sure it's intact.
One way to identify a phony keypad is to check for signs of it being placed over the real one. Check for sticky keys, and mismatched color and thickness.
Thieves sometimes use cameras to record PINs. Look around for tiny cameras pointing towards the keypad. Financial institutions will typically place cameras around the ATM, but never near the pin pad.
Tips to Prevent Card Skimming
Inspect the Card Slot
Take a moment to inspect the card slot before inserting your card. If it appears to be different or heavier than usual, or if any components seem loose or altered, it's best to move on and report the issue to the servicer immediately. When using a USC Credit Union ATM, notify a member-specialist inside the branch or contact us to report any suspicious activity.
Shield Your PIN
Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN number.
Use Contactless Payments
Opt for contactless payments, like Apple Pay, instead of using the magnetic stripe when you can. Go to Virtual Wallets for help adding your USC Credit Union card as a contactless payment option.
Monitor Your Accounts
USC Credit Union's Online and Mobile Banking is available 24/7, allowing you to review your transactions in real-time.
Set Up Bank Alerts
- Click on Accounts > Notification Settings
- Turn on account alerts for each of your USC Credit Union accounts. You can choose email notifications, mobile notifications, or both. In addition, we recommend turning on General Alerts to receive default security alerts.
Mobile Banking App
- Click on More > Accounts > Notification Settings
Update Your Contact Information
It's important to keep your contact information up-to-date with all your financial institutions, so you receive any alerts or notifications about suspicious activity as soon as possible. To update your contact information and communication preferences with USC Credit Union, you can use our Online or Mobile Banking platforms.
- Click on your Profile in the top right corner > Settings
- Click on the Contact tab
- Update your address, phone number, and email address as needed.
Let's Stay Vigilant
It's our shared responsibility to stay informed and protect ourselves from card skimming. With awareness and proactive steps, we can ensure our financial data remains in the right hands. Again, contact us immediately if you notice any activity you did not authorize. Fight on, and bank on safely!
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