You take precautions to avoid card fraud. You’re careful where you shop online, you filter out robocalls and you use cash when you can. But did you know that something as simple as getting gas may leave you vulnerable to skimming?

What is skimming?

Skimming is a kind of fraud where fraudsters use a device to illegally obtain card numbers and PINs during valid card transactions. This can lead to unauthorized charges on your card, costing you valuable time and money to reverse.

Skimming can happen at any place where cards are swiped, such as an ATM, but a majority of skimming occurs at gas stations. This is due to the fact that they are outside and readily accessible to fraudsters. The good news is there are simple ways you can take action to protect yourself.

Here’s what to look out for and how to avoid getting ripped off.

Check and report

Check the card reader at the pump and keypad for any signs that it’s been forced open or may have been tampered with such as loose wires, tape or adhesives or cracked or damaged readers. If you notice anything that seems off, do not use the pump and report it to the merchant right away.

Wiggle the reader

Wiggling the card reader and keypad can tip you off to whether a skimming device has been attachedto a gas pump or ATM. Oftentimes, skimming devices will not be securely fastened and a good shake can help you spot a skimmer. 

Stick to the familiar

You’ll be more likely to notice if something is off with a pump that you use regularly, so make a habit of going to the same merchants if possible. Consider paying in the store instead of at the pump as skimmers will typically not have access to in-store machines.

Take cover

Covering the keypad while you enter your PIN can protect you in the event there is a hidden camera pointed at the keypad being used to steal your PIN.

Monitor your accounts

Review your transactions regularly and immediately report any suspicious activity to your bank, like charges you don’t recognize or charges in amounts that don’t seem right.

Switch up your PIN

Regularly changing your PIN can keep the scammers on their toes. At FirstBank, you can change your PIN at your convenience at any time. Simply give us a call at 1-800-964-3444 and we can assist you in selecting a new PIN. You can also change your PIN at any of our ATMs.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you visit your ATM. If you see suspicious activity on your account, contact your bank right away. Learn more by visiting our Customer Fraud Protection page or call 1-800-964-3444.

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