Credit and debit card fraud: 3 tips to protect yourself from 'card skimmers'

Cyber security expert Michael Legary explains how people can protect themselves from card skimmers that steal financial information.

Skimming devices can steal your credit and debit card number, expiry, and security code.

Cyber security experts say card skimmers are hard to spot but can be attached to things people use often like gas pumps and ATMs. (CBC)

People can take precautions to protect themselves from thieves trying to steal credit and debit card information, says a cyber security expert.

A card-skimming device used to steal credit and debit card information was recently discovered at a gas station in Kamloops, B.C.

Michael Legary, founder of cyber security company Seccuris, was on CBC Radio One's Daybreak Kamloops to talk about what people can do to protect themselves from card skimmers.

What is a card skimmer?

Legary say credit and debit card skimmers are designed to be hidden, so it's no surprise people don't spot them.

Skimmers have the exact same magnetic reader as other card readers, according to Legary. 

They can be placed in front of legitimate readers like the ones on ATMs or gas pumps. When you slide your card in, it's being read by both the skimmer and legitimate card reader at the same time.

People who install skimmers are trying to obtain your credit or debit card information, including the number, expiry date, and the security number on the back of the card.

Three tips to protect yourself

1. Check the card reader for anything unusual, like a plastic attachment.

"You have to be cautious and if you think something's out of the ordinary, if the plastic looks cheap or flimsy, or looks like something is falling off, whether it be a gas pump or ATM or whatever, be suspicious and use another one before using that device," says Legary.

2. Contact your bank and credit card company.

If you suspect your financial information has been compromised, Legary suggests calling your bank and credit card company. They'll put flags on your cards to make sure there's additional monitoring for unusual activity.

3. Keep track of your purchase activity with money management websites.

Sites like are designed to monitor your credit card and bank account activity and they will alert you to something that's outside of your standard purchasing. They may be able to detect the skimming before the bank even can, according to Legary.

To hear more, click the audio labelled: 3 tips to protect yourself from credit and debit card skimmers


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