Card skimming is a form of fraud where criminals steal private information from a card’s magnetic stripe during a normal transaction. This illicit activity involves minimal technology but significant criminal intent, often perpetrated by individuals who handle your card. Skimming is most prevalent at locations like gas stations and ATMs, which process numerous card payments, particularly over weekends.

How Skimming Works

Skimmers are small, inconspicuous devices designed to scan and store card data from the magnetic stripe. These devices are typically installed on gas pumps or ATMs, where they can capture and store hundreds of card numbers over a short period. Once a card is swiped through a skimmer, the device records the card’s data. This information is then sold either through direct contracts or over the Internet. Criminals use the stolen data to create counterfeit cards, which they use to make unauthorized purchases and withdrawals. Cardholders often remain unaware of the fraud until they notice unfamiliar transactions on their statements.

Detection and Prevention

Detecting skimming can be challenging for the average cardholder, but there are some precautions you can take. Always be alert to unusual or odd-looking card readers on ATMs and gas pumps. If a card reader appears tampered with or different from others in the vicinity, avoid using it. Additionally, consider using ATMs in well-lit, secure locations and regularly monitor your bank statements for any suspicious activity.

By staying vigilant and informed, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to card skimming and protect your financial information from criminals.


About Penn East Federal Credit Union

“Have a positive impact on our members, our community, and each other.” That is the common thread that goes across all of Penn East Federal Credit Union’s endeavors. With over eighty-five years in business and 24,000 members, the community-oriented credit union is a vital part of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Penn East FCU serves Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties with five branches and a 24/7 digital banking service through their website and their Penn East Mobile Banking App. Penn East FCU provides trusted financial solutions, integrity, and reliability to its members and community.