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 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. That's one reason credit card companies and stores are switching to EMV cards, but it will take a while before every retailer accepts them.
Individual thieves and groups have stolen millions of dollars using skimmers. It doesn't help that skimmers are available for sale to anyone who wants to buy them, so they can show up anywhere.
Just glancing at the news over the last few months shows that skimmers were found at dozens of local gas stations, ATMs and banks around the country. If you had any doubts, skimmers are out there and can be anywhere.
That's why you need to know how to spot a skimmer before it snags your information.