Phoenix police are trying to identify the criminals seen on surveillance videos installing a skimmer on an ATM at a Phoenix gas station. Skimmers are small electronic devices that are easily installed by an identity thief on ATMs, gas pumps and other card reading devices. The skimmer steals all of the information from the credit card or debit card used which then permits the identity thief to use that information to access the victim’s bank account when the skimmer is used on a debit card.  If a credit card is used, the identity thief can use the stolen information to access the victim’s credit card account.  Each skimmer can hold information on as many as 2,400 cards.
Credit card rules required new EMV smart chip credit card equipment be installed by retailers to process credit and debit cards by October 1, 2015 in order for the retailer to avoid liability. Wider implementation of the use of EMV chip cards at retailers has resulted in a dramatic reduction in data breaches and credit card fraud at retailers using this equipment. ATMs were required to install the chip processing readers in 2016, but many ATMs still don’t have chip reading capabilities. MasterCard and Visa delayed the deadline for the installation of EMV chip card readers on gas pumps to October 1, 2020.   
Always look for signs of tampering on any machine you use to swipe your credit card or debit card.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered, don’t use it.   Debit cards, when compromised through a skimmer, put the customers at risk of having the bank accounts tied to their cards entirely emptied if the theft is not promptly reported and even if the victim reports the theft immediately, the victims lose access to their bank accounts while the matter is investigated by the bank.  Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture the victim’s PIN to enable the identity thief to access the account of the victim whose account number was captured through the skimmer.  Debit cards should not be used for purchases at gas pumps or for other retail purchases because the legal liability laws related to stolen debit card information are not as protective to consumers as the laws relating to fraudulent credit card use.  If you use your debit card as an ATM card, you should also sign up to receive alerts from your bank whenever funds are taken from your account to notify you if your card is used improperly.