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Credit card skimming

Skimming is the theft of credit card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction.

The thief can procure a victim's credit card number using basic methods such as photocopying receipts or more advanced methods such as using a small electronic device (skimmer) to swipe and store hundreds of victims' credit card numbers.

How does credit card skimming work

Common scenarios for skimming are:

  • Restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of the victim's credit card out of their immediate view. The thief may also use a small keypad to unobtrusively transcribe the 3 or 4 digit card security code which is not present on the magnetic strip.
  • Call centers.
  • Merchants such as gas stations when a third-party card-reading device is installed either outside or inside a fuel dispenser or other card-swiping terminal. This device allows a thief to capture a customer's credit and debit card information, including their PIN, with each card swipe.