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Don't get 'skimmed'

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Swiping a credit card is less secure than using a chip card reader. (Source: 3TV) Swiping a credit card is less secure than using a chip card reader. (Source: 3TV)
Retailers might have chip-enabled machines, but if they have not been certified, you will have to swipe your card. (Source: tuthelens via 123RF) Retailers might have chip-enabled machines, but if they have not been certified, you will have to swipe your card. (Source: tuthelens via 123RF)
Click image to enlarge - ATM skimming (Source: FBI.gov) Click image to enlarge - ATM skimming (Source: FBI.gov)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Many retailers are working as fast as they can to implement chip card readers at checkout lines. That's because they offer a more secure method of payment over the traditional swiping. 

But a lot of stores don't have them in place yet, giving crooks the opportunity to steal money from consumers using an old scam.

RELATED: Why aren't retailers equipped to take your chip card? (April 28, 2016)

It's called skimming, and it's an easy way scammers can grab your credit card information without you knowing. 

It's an ongoing problem. In fact, FICO recently reported that ATM skimming increased 546 percent from 2014 to 2015. But while gas pumps and ATMs are frequent targets, the old skimmer scam is evolving.

"We're starting to hear about these skimmers attaching to self-checkout lanes in grocery stores and retail," Felicia Thompson of the Phoenix Better Business Bureau said, explained that crooks are using what's called a "quick hit" tactic.

Footage from a self-checkout terminal inside a Kentucky Wal-Mart shows a man shielding his partner, who pulls a skimming device out of his jacket and pops it in place. It only took two seconds but the thieves made off with as much as $20,000 from at least 38 victims.

"It's something that's easy and the retail staff isn't paying attention to that lane necessarily, so we're seeing people really take advantage of that situation across the country," Thompson said.

Criminals love the self-checkout terminals because there's no attendant or cashier to catch them installing a skimmer.

"I think it's just one more thing that we need to be worried about," Thompson said.

There have been no reports yet that any stores in Arizona have been targeted but there have been numerous reports in neighboring states, so be aware of if you're planning a trip out of town.

"It's really important for people to know that this is just another thing to be aware of as they go to different kind of grocery stores even, not in town but across the country as they're traveling throughout the summer," Thompson said.

The FBI offers several tips to help you protect yourself from losing your credit card information to a skimmer.

Inspect the ATM, gas pump or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked or damaged, or if you notice scratches or tape residue.

When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.

If possible, use an ATM at an inside location. They usually allow less access for criminals to install skimmers.

Also, be careful of ATMs in tourist areas; they are popular targets for skimmers.

Thompson says it's important for consumers to just pay attention.

"They're just going to get more sophisticated and these scammers are going to seem more legit because they have the technology to help them create those images and messages," she said.

For additional information about credit card skimmers click on the following links: 

http://www.bbb.org/council/news-events/bbb-scam-alerts/2016/05/skimmers-steal-customer-card-info-at-stores/

http://www.fico.com/en/newsroom/atm-compromises-in-us-jumped-six-fold-in-2015-fico-reports-04-08-2016

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/july/ATM071411

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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