5 Ways Not to Get Scammed by Skimmers in Louisiana While Holiday Shopping
Many retailers are not waiting until Black Friday to offer deals on their merchandise. Major retailers are sharing specials now and people are snapping up deals earlier than they usually would.
Just be aware that scammers are looking for any chance they can get to steal your money and your identity.
When shopping you need to make sure you are looking at the devices carefully used to make your transactions.
In St. Landry Parish there was a report earlier this month that a card skimming device was placed on a credit/debit card machine at the Walmart in Eunice.
As we enter the busy holiday shopping season it is important to know what you need to look for to prevent your information from being stolen from you and your money being taken.
This year, officials who monitor retail sales, expect that sales will be up between 3.5% to 4.6%. That gives people who use these skimming devices even more chances to attempt to steal your money.
Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson says there are several things you can look for to help you determine whether or not a skimming device has been placed on a "point of sale" device.
See if the Device Is Aligned Properly
Before you put your debit card or credit card into any device, you should inspect the device thoroughly.
Gibson says hook to see if everything on the transaction pad looks like it matches. Is it aligned? Also, look at the keypad, does it look loose? He says you can move the pieces to see if they are removable. They shouldn't be. If you are not sure, report it to store employees.
Skimmer devices can steal your credit card and debit card information. Your PIN number can also be stolen if someone has placed a fake keypad over the real one.
Make Sure You Inspect the Card Reader at the Gas Pump
There have been other cases in Louisiana where card skimmers have been installed on top of the read card reader. Look for anything extra sticking out.
In the above picture, you can see the additional piece of plastic that has been placed over the real card reader.
Again, Gibson says to look and touch the reader. If you can remove it, then it's likely some kind of skimming device. You should immediately ask for help from a worker.
Does the "Card Reader" Look Bigger Than Usual?
Gibson says when someone has placed a skimming device over a normal card reader, you will notice that things don't look the same.
The device may appear larger or bulky. It's not a bad idea to touch the device to see if anything comes up or off of the device.
It may seem like there is little difference between the two pictures, and that's one of the things that can make detecting these devices so tricky.
Always Carefully Inspect the Card Reader at the ATM
When you are putting your debit card into an ATM machine, don't take anything for granted even if you stop at the same bank on a regular basis.
Whether it's in a retail store, after hours at an ATM or at a gas station, skimmers can be placed on these devices at any time provided the scammer has a little time to put the skimmer in place.
Gibson says skimmers can take an object (the skimmer) that very closely resembles the real unit and place it directly over it. When you approach an ATM before you stick your card in make sure that the reader isn't removable as that would signal trouble.
What Do You Do If You Suspect Your Card Has Been Skimmed?
Gibson says all of the following could happen:
- The thief can make a fake credit card with your information.
- Thieves can buy things using your card.
- Thieves can sell your information to a third party.
You should always monitor your checking and credit accounts for purchases you have not made. Immediately dispute charges that you think are fraudulent.
Gibson when paying for gas you can always go into the gas station first as the possibility exists that with people present there might be less chance that the unit could be compromised.
When using your debit card have it run as a credit card so you don't have to enter your PIN number
If you think anything is wrong when you are going to pay or withdraw money make sure you report the situation to the bank or retailer. And if you think someone is making fraudulent purchases immediately report that to the bank and police.
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Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli