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How to Avoid Card Skimmers

Every time you withdraw money, fill your car with gas or use a payment card, you are in danger of having your bank account hijacked. The use of card skimmers is on the rise, and it's crucial to educate yourself on steps to prevent skimmers from getting your information.

5 Steps to Avoid Skimming

Card skimmers are devices installed by thieves onto any card reader. Skimmers can capture your PIN and account information as you use your card. The devices are hard to detect because they are small and often blend in with the rest of the terminal. You can take a few steps to make your account tougher to access to lessen your chances of using a machine with a skimmer attached.

1. Some skimmers are nearly undetectable, as Brian Krebs demonstrated in his blog, "Krebs on Security." Try and be as observant as possible when using an ATM or gas pump. Study the size of the panels and card reader. The more careful you are, the better the chances you will be able to catch anything out of place.

2. Card skimmers are often installed at places where there aren't a lot of people around. That's why you should opt to perform ATM transactions inside bank branches and pay for gas at the counter inside the convenience store. What you sacrifice in convenience could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.

3. Another trick is to look out for cameras. If you see a camera pointed at the ATM machine, it could be that a criminal has seen it before you and decided to find a place with no surveillance.

4. Although card skimmers may be a high-tech way of stealing your information, there is one pretty low-tech move you can make to throw them off: Cover up the keypad with your hand. This method will not work on all card skimmers, but the ones that have miniature cameras attached to the machine will not be able to record your PIN as you type it in.

5. If you have the option, go to a place that has 24-7 service. Criminals will be less likely to install a skimmer at a gas station where a cashier is always around to keep an eye on the activities in the lot.

Have you ever had an experience with a card skimmer? If so, leave a comment below.