You’ve probably heard about credit card skimming at gas stations and ATMs. My client told me how it happened to him twice while wintering in Florida this year. It’s as easy as one, two, three. Here’s how it works.
First, the use of universal keys make gas pumps easy to access and therefore easy targets. Second, the identity thief installs an illegal scanner. When you insert your credit card at the pump your data is stolen and saved. And third, he can collect the data via wireless Bluetooth technology a couple of weeks or months later without even getting out of his car. The same technique can be used on ATMs.
According to FICO, the company that provides your credit score, 36 percent of skimming cases occurred in retail stores, 48 percent at ATMs that were not at banks, and 11 percent at bank ATMs.
Florida is a hotspot. Detectives are hunting for suspects that hit two gas stations last month, one in St. Cloud and the other in Kissimmee. Areas with lots of tourist and lots of transactions are prime targets. I’d be extra careful wherever you vacation this summer.
My client asked me about LifeLock because he knows I use their services. My thinking is it can’t hurt having another set of eyes looking out for me. But there are some other steps you can take too.
3 Steps for Preventing Identity Theft
- Don’t enter your pin if you use a debit card. Just select the credit card option, not debit. The transaction will still deduct from your checking account without it and your pin won’t be skimmed.
- Consider using credit cards with a limit for things like gas purchases or at places where you know there are a ton of transactions. Try and stay away from the ATM at Fenway Park by example.
- Be responsible about checking your statements every month. I’m sorry if your wife resents your questions on the credit card bill like the organic food from One Lucky Duck. But it’s either that or pay for someone else’s lifestyle if you’re not preventing identity theft.