Scamicide readers are familiar with skimmers which are devices that can be attached to any device into which your credit or debit card is placed for processing, such as an ATM, gas pump or pay terminal at a retail store.  Once attached, these skimmers are able to capture credit card information from the magnetic strip found on the card and use that information to make fraudulent charges using the victim’s credit card.  Fortunately, these skimmers do not work against the new EMV chip cards, but with only 60% of the credit cards in the United States being updated to the new EMV chip cards and even worse, only about 20% of the card terminals in the country having been updated to process EMV chip cards according to the Mercator Advisory Group.   Walmart was one of the first companies to switch over to credit card processing equipment that will process EMV chip cards, however, because many people still don’t have an EMV chip card, all credit card and debit card processing equipment will accommodate either magnetic strip cards or EMV chip cards.  Ironically, Walmarts in Virginia and Kentucky were hit with credit card data breaches through skimmers that were installed at the self-checkout lanes where criminals were able to install the skimmers over the existing Walmart credit card processor so that when customers used their old style magnetic strip credit cards, the information from their cards was stolen by the criminals and used to make them victims of identity theft.

TIPS

One of the first lessons from this story is that if you have an EMV chip credit card, use it as a chip card rather than swiping the magnetic strip that still appears on your card.  When your card is processed as a chip card, you are much safer and skimmers cannot capture the information from the card’s magnetic strip when it is used as a chip credit card.  If you don’t have an EMV chip credit card, ask your credit card company to issue one to you and if the stores where you shop don’t yet take the EMV chip card, find out why not and consider shopping at stores like Walmart and Target that have updated their equipment.