The worst thing about a hi-tech world is that crime has gone hi-tech too. Card skimmers are a popular way for criminals to use tech-savviness to steal our financial freedom.
The good thing is that some skimmers have limitations that put the thief at risk of getting caught. Unfortunately, thieves are starting to use newer skimmers that make their job even easier.
Skimmers that can transmit the stolen card information via text message have been found at gas station pumps. That means that the crook can set up skimmers anywhere in the world, leave the scene of the crime, and collect debit and credit card information from the comfort of their own home.
Psst: Gas stations are one of the worst places to swipe your card. Click here to learn about the other places you should avoid.
Older skimmers use Bluetooth technology to transmit the card information. The drawback here is that the crook has to remain in range of the Bluetooth signal in order to receive the stolen data. Plus, your mobile device can recognize other nearby Bluetooth-ready devices so that makes it hard for the thief to hide.
These new skimmers have recently been found in New York. Here's a picture of what the back and front of these devices hidden inside gas station pumps can look like. Notice the SIM card in the picture on the right.
Avoid older gas stations
Older gas stations that don't have a lot of security measures in place are the perfect target. They may not have cameras to record activity on the property and their pumps may have old locks that can be opened with a master key. New stations have pumps with custom locks and card readers that use the chips on cards instead of the magnetic strip.
Learn to spot a skimmer
Since skimmers are hooked up inside the pumps, it can be hard to detect them if you don't know what to look for. But there are some telltale signs that can tip you off, such as feeling loose parts when you slide your card into the machine. Read this article to learn more about spotting skimmers.
Use alternate forms of payment
To avoid debit and credit card theft of all types, you can go even more hi-tech than the criminals. Using services like Apple Pay and Android Pay cut out your card altogether. Click here to learn how to pay for things with your smartphone.
You can go the ultra low-tech route as well by paying for everything with cash. But beware of skimmers on ATMs; just use good old-fashioned withdrawal slips with a real-life teller.