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This past June in Alabama, scammers used ATM skimmers and covert video cameras to steal more than $1.7 million from member accounts at credit unions. That’s more than $1.7 million in less than a month. While we know that Alabama is a long way from the Midwest, instances like these are an opportunity to educate our community and encourage vigilance when it comes to protecting your finances. Here is what you need to know to notice and avoid card skimming scams.

Skimming Basics

What is card skimming? Skimming occurs when devices are illegally installed on ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or gas pumps to capture data or record cardholders’ PINs.

What do thieves do with my information? Criminals use the data to steal from victims’ accounts.

How big of an issue is this? It is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion every year.

How to spot card skimming

Knowledge is your best defense against skimming scams, and these videos are a good starting point for knowing what to look for.

How to avoid card skimming

To decrease the risk of card skimming scams, practice these basic precautions:

  1. Visually and physically inspect card readers and pin pads before use.
  2. When you can, run transactions as credit instead of debit so you don’t need to enter your PIN.
  3. If you need to run the transaction as debit, be sure to shield the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN or other information, even if no one’s around.
  4. Review your financial accounts regularly. Contact your financial institution or card company as soon as you notice any discrepancies.
  5. Never share passwords, verification codes, or personal information with others.

How the Fraud Squad can help 

The Fraud Squad provides education about common scams to retailers and consumers. The program helps raise awareness of common scams so they can more easily recognize the lies and avoid phone, email, social media, gift card and other scams to help them protect their financial health and wealth. Learn more about ways to safeguard your finances at

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