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What is Card skimming?


Though the increasing usage of debit and credit card has rendered an individual's life easy as such plastic money instruments have done away with the need to carry cash. The same needs to be handled very diligently and with utmost caution as fraudsters do find out a way in every situation to rob us off our financial possessions.

What is Card skimming?

Of late, many instances of fraud in relation to debit and credit card have come to the forefront. Among such reported frauds, card skimming is one of the most common.

Card skimming is a fraudulent activity that involves skimming of the details on the magnetic stripe from ATMs, debit and credit card through illegal means. The information hence skimmed is transferred onto a blank card which is then used by an unlawful individual at point of sale kiosks or at ATMs for money withdrawal.

How card skimming is effected?

Generally, skimming is effected by the replacement of the card reader with a fake card reader that then records all of the information on different plastic cards in use as they pass via the skimmer.

Such skimming devices are most often deployed on machines such as hand-held pinpads and ATMs. Also these devices are available as a single, compact and portable device that could easily fit in the pocket.

What measures a cardholder should take in order to protect oneself against such fraudulent activities?

Though, avoidance of such frauds is hard, still some measures are available to the rescue of the cardholder, abiding by which can limit the extent of such fake attacks.

1. Pay-off the bill upfront: Avoid handing over your plastic money instruments to any of the server instead pay yourself at the point-of-sale terminal.

2. Cover-up ATMs or handheld pinpad: While proceeding to make a transaction always ensure that you cover up the device with your hand such that no pin-hole cameras or shoulder surfers could make a note of your PIN number.


3. Keep an eye on your plastic card: At the time of handing over the plastic money at any of the payment counter of the retail outlet ensure that you keep a vigil on the card.

4. Periodically review your bank account and card statements : As card skimming and other fraudulent activities of a similar nature are hard to recognize. Regular and periodic review of card statements can reveal of any such suspicious activities.

5. Intimate encounter of any fake or suspicious ATM or pinpad: On encounter of any fake or suspicious ATM or pinpad inform the concerned bank or police.

What are the steps taken to curb ever-increasing instances of card skimming?

In the wake of ever-increasing instances of card skimming, RBI has issued guidelines to commercial as well as public sector banking entities to replace magnetic stripe cards with chip-based cards that are indeed more secure by 30th November' 2013.

Unlike, conventional plastic cards that feature a magnetic stripe at the back, the new chip-based cards include embedded microprocessors and the cards would have to be pushed into the device and thereafter the cardholder would be required to enter the 4-digit secure PIN for completing each of the transaction.

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