One of the more successful tools of 21st-century crooks is the skimmer. Thieves attach them to ATMs, gas pumps, point-of-sales (POS) systems and other places people swipe their credit and debit cards.
Once in place, this sneaky bit of electronics steals the magnetic strip information from your card.
The thieves then use this information to clone your card, and once they have a clone, they can drain your bank account, or run up huge bills and trash your credit before you even know it.
It could fit over an ATM or a point-of-purchase card reader, like the ones you use to pay for groceries or gasoline. The fake skimmers are so small that it's hard to tell they're even there.
We recently showed you how you can spot certain skimmers by turning your smartphone's Bluetooth on. Experts warn that a credit card skimmer can be in your vicinity if you see a long, strange number trying to connect to your Bluetooth.
Now, since this strategy makes so much sense, someone decided to make an app out of it!
Skimmer Scanner is a Google Play Store app for Android phones that claims to detect certain skimmers that use Bluetooth.
The app's description states that it uses your phone's Bluetooth radio to detect a common radio component in modern fuel pump skimmers and warn you if you're about to get scammed.
This is the basic idea of how it works. When you're at a gas station, open the app, hold your phone close to the gas pump and it will use your phone's Bluetooth connection to detect HC-05 (Bluetooth enabled) skimmers near you.
Judging by how this app works, it will only detect these specific Bluetooth skimmers. It will not work with other skimmers like the ones that use local storage or SIM cards.
We're also not sure how effective this app is since we haven't really detected any HC-05 skimmers yet while testing it but the app's developer claims that more than 13,500 people have already installed it since last week.
If you want to try it yourself, here's the Google Play page for the Skimmer Scanner app.
What do you think? Have you tried this app yet? Tell us if it's as effective as it claims to be by dropping us a comment!