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How to avoid credit card skimmers

It is a threat we face every day that impacts the amount of money in our bank account. Here is a look at how to protect your cash from skimmers.

SAN ANTONIO — It is a threat you cannot always see. Skimmers are now inside gas pumps. You run your card and crooks run off with your money.

 “You credit could be affected, your loans, which could affect just so many other areas of your personal and consumer life, if you will. So, yes, it can grow into a huge problem,” said Michael Skiba who is also known as Dr. Fraud.

Skimming results in $1 billion in losses annually according to the FBI.

“Skimming is a threat that we face every single day throughout the nation,” said Special Agent Michelle Lee with the San Antonio FBI. The FBI works in connection with the Secret Service, which is the primary agency that investigates credit card fraud.

Keep your portion of that money in your wallet by taking these steps. This step takes more time, but it is the safest way to pay.

 “Less convenient, it’s actually go inside the store,” said Skiba. “So, you know that there’s a really low chance of a skimmer being actually inside the store itself.”

Pay this way if you want to pay at the pump.

 “The chips on our credit cards, those are safer than using a credit card with a magnetic strip that stores your data to it is more difficult for criminals to be able to steal the data from a credit card that uses the chip,” Lee said.

Skiba also recommends using a credit card if you pay at the pump.

“With a debit card, of course, your money is gone immediately,” he said.

Be picky about your pump.

“Choose the ones maybe closest to the station, maybe within sight. Ultimately the ones that are furthest away in the dark and corners are the ones that are easiest to tamper with,” said Skiba.

Also, look at the card reader and number pad before swiping your card. Sometimes you can tell if something is wrong.

“What they do is they overlay the entire pad with a new one,” Skiba said. “Sometimes you can tell if the numbers aren’t aligned or if things just look a little off.”

“Really visibly look at any device that you’re using,” Lee said. “You know, pull on it, tug on it. If it feels loose, if anything looks like it’s, you know, unusual, if there’s any scratches, if the plastic or any interface or the color looks a little bit different or off, don’t take a chance in using it.”

Fight high tech crooks with technology. Get an app. It detects the Bluetooth signal skimmers use to transmit information to schemers. Many are free.

 “I actually use one called Card Skimmer,” Skiba said.

Or go low tech and take the time to keep an eye out for unusual expenses.

 “Look at your credit card statements and your bank statements,” Lee said.

Contact your card issuer if you see purchases you did not make. These easy steps will keep crooks from skimming off your bank account.

If you have a question for Eyewitness Wants to Know, email us at or call us at 210-377-8647.

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