Skimmers are small devices that can read a credit or debit card and capture the information on the card for scam artists. They may be installed on an ATM or a gas pump or any other device into which you directly swipe your credit card or debit card. They may also be used as a portable device by a criminal clerk or waiter who takes your card and not only runs it for the legitimate charge for whatever you are purchasing, but also runs it through the skimmer to capture the information to steal access to your credit card or debit card.
As much as possible, when giving your credit or debit card to a clerk or waiter, watch the card to make sure that it is not swiped through a skimmer as well as through the legitimate credit card processing machine. Many restaurants now bring the card processing apparatus to you at your table to avoid this type of criminal activity.
And while you are at it, you should consider using your debit card less because unlike a credit card, the laws that protect you in the event of fraudulent use of the card are greatly limited. While your liability for fraudulent use of your credit card is limited by law to no more than fifty dollars, your potential liability for fraudulent use of your debit card that you do not catch in a timely fashion could be the emptying of the checking account to which your debit card is attached.