We've all heard about scam artists and their tricky and deceitful ways. This is a story about skimmers, or skim artists. Credit card skimming has been around for years and is a growing problem that seems to be getting worse.
Here's how the scheme works: It starts with skim artists who recruit accomplices to find temporary work, usually at places such as restaurants, hotels and retail businesses. The accomplices are given an illegal electronic device, known as a skimmer, that can capture all of the personal information from a credit card or debit card. All it takes is a quick swipe and a few seconds, and the skimmer device captures the card holder's name, address, telephone number, card number, credit limit and PIN number.
If you're like most people, you probably assume that when you make a credit card transaction that the card is in safe hands. However, that isn't always the case. Skim artists will first swipe your card through the legitimate machine, but then secretly swipe it through the smaller skimmer machine when you're not looking. The accomplice usually is paid money to use the illegal skimmer machine and then returns the machine to the con man. The con man now has all the information he needs to download your credit card information onto a computer and make a fake card in your name.
The skim artist may use the phony credit card himself or sell it to someone else. Either way, chances are you won't know any of this has taken place until you get your monthly statement and notice the unauthorized charges made in your name.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind to help protect yourself from skimmers and other types of credit card frauds:
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