Credit card “skimming” is on the rise. Some banks and law agencies are even referring to it as an epidemic. But you can protect yourself with a RFID aluminium sleeve. You’re entire credit card available balance or linked debit card account can be wiped out in a matter of minutes if you fall victim to card skimming!

WHAT IS CARD SKIMMING?

All credit and debit cards have magnetic strips on the back. That’s how your card is read by point of sale scanners these days. You can pay for Petrol at the pump or buy groceries at the checkout with one quick swipe through a card reader. Some cards (and soon, all cards) even have an embedded chip so you don’t even have to swipe your card through a slot, all you need to do is “tap” your card on the reader (or get it close enough to the electronic reader) and your card information is electronically read and used to make the purchase. And while this is considered a convenience for shoppers, stores, and banks, more and more thieves have are using this technology to create a new kind of fraud called “card skimming”.

Worldwide organized crime and local gangs have gotten into the card skimming. Here’s how it works. Bad guys buy magnetic card readers (available online, to anyone) and attach them to legitimate card readers at ATM machines. These card readers are small devices that look like they are part of the real ATM machine. These devices capture the credit card information of everyone who uses the machine. On ATM machines, crooks sometimes also attach tiny video cameras to steal PIN numbers – they actually get spy on you and watch you enter your PIN number. These thieves can do this at any bank – attaching readers and cameras to the bank’s outside or lobby ATMs.

Crooks then remove the device and use the stored information to buy stuff online or write the data onto new magnetic strips to make counterfeit credit cards or ATM cards. Some skimmers are outfitted with radio devices, which send the information over a cellular network to the bad guys, giving them instant access to your credit card data.

Thieves can also buy small hand held devices (portable skimmers) that can read your card from a few centimeters to several meters away (the same devices that allow you to “tap” a card with an embedded chip). These portable skimmers don’t have to be hooked up to anything, don’t have to be plugged in, and don’t have to be attached to an ATM. These portable devices work like WiFi. These portable devices can be used by an employee of any store or restaurant if you hand them your card. They can also be used by any stranger standing behind you in a crowd or next to you while waiting on a line, anywhere. You don’t even have to be in a store. You can be waiting at a bus stop or sitting in a crowd while watching your kid’s soccer practice. They can get your card information while your card is in your wallet or purse. This kind of card and information theft that can also evolve into identity theft because some readers can also obtain information from your driver’s license and other IDs you may carry in your wallet.

We strongly suggest you take these tips to protect your card from skimming, or at the very least, if you fall victim, these tips may help reduce how badly you’re affected by these thieves.

• Don’t let your credit/debit/ATM card out of sight. Watch carefully anyone who handles your card.

• Keep track of receipts and check your credit/debit/savings card statements regularly to make sure you authorised all purchases.

• Scrutinize every charge you see on your statement, even if it’s one dollar. Some thieves will charge small amounts just to find out if your credit/debit/ATM card has been reported as stolen, and if it has not been reported stolen (if the small charge goes through) they charge larger amounts, and keep charging until your limit is reached or there’s no more money to take from your savings account (if it’s debit or cheque account card).

• Report any unauthorized purchases immediately to your credit/debit/ATM card provider/bank.

• If you do fall victim, do not cancel the card, instead report the theft to your bank, tell them you want a new credit/debit/ATM card (with a new card number) and tell them to stop all charges to the old card number. And be sure to change your PIN.

• Don’t use a credit/debit/ATM card reader if there are any signs of tampering or it if looks “strange” or different. Don’t swipe your card through devices that offer to clean the magnetic strip. Those are scams designed to capture your credit/debit/ATM card information.

• If your credit card is used without your permission most banks have a type of insurance that keeps you from having to pay for the unauthorised purchase if you report it in a timely fashion. But with debit and ATM cards, you’re may be out of luck – most banks will not reimburse you for unauthorized purchases made with a debit or ATM eftpos card – you will never see that money again and your account can be wiped out in a matter of minutes, hours, or days. Before you even know it has happened, all of your money can be gone.

• In fact, due to thieves being able to read some credit, debit and ATM cards while their still in your wallet, pocket, or purse (cards with embedded chips) it’s come to the point where you have to protect the cards from scanners and skimming.

• Place all of your cards (cards that are in your wallet or purse) inside skimmer/reader blocking sleeves. These sleeves are also called “RFID Blocking” sleeves.

You can protect yourself (the cards in your wallet or purse) from thieves with hand held skimmers/scanners.

One simple RFID blocking sleeve holds your credit/debit card or ID card, blocks the radio waves that allow thieves to obtain your personal information from credit or debit cards or other IDs (enhanced drivers licenses, transit cards, college and work IDs and more). Remember, card theft of any kind can lead to identity theft and that does end up costing you money, even if your bank removes unwanted charges from a credit card. There’s so much more to identity theft than fraudulent credit card purchases.

About Portable Skimmers and RFID:

RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, is the technology that lets you simply wave your credit card, passport or license in front of a nearby scanner (or a thieves’ portable skimmer) instead of having to slide the magnetic strip through it. It’s a fairly simple concept. The electronic scanner sends a signal which is received by an antenna embedded into the card, which is connected to the card’s RFID chip, and the information on the card is read.

Millions of credit cards now have this technology embedded into them. However, over the next year it’s expected that banks and credit card issuers will replace every single magnetic strip credit and debit card with a new contactless “smart card” that has these embedded chips, and why shouldn’t they? The new cards seem to make it all easier. So much easier those thieves who can read your credit cards without you even taking them out of your wallet.

But these little RFID blocking sleeves cost only a couple of dollars and block your card from being read as long as it’s in the sleeve (in your wallet, pocket, or purse).

So you still might be thinking “It’s only a credit card, my bank will protect me from unauthorized charges.” If you think that’s the only thing thieves can do with your information you’re dead wrong! Most identity thieves can take bits and pieces of information from your credit or debit card or other IDs and use the information to steal your identity. A stolen identity means they can apply for new credit cards in your name (cards you won’t know about so you won’t be able to tell the bank the charges are unauthorised), and even worse – identity thieves can use the information from your credit cards and IDs to take out car loans and even make false IDs to apply for a mortgage in your name! Identity theft can ruin your credit report and a bad credit report can keep you from getting additional cards or loans for any reason. Identity theft can take years to fix.

For this reason we highly recommend you use an RFID blocking sleeve with every type of card in your wallet. They are availabel on ebay and other shopping sites. We highly recommend you get them and use them on every card and ID. And when you shop for this item, be careful, make sure you’re getting authentic aluminium RFID blocking sleeves, not fakes.

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