What is 'Skimming'

Skimming is a method used by identity thieves to capture information from a cardholder. Several approaches can be used by fraudsters to procure card information with the most advanced approach involving a small device called a skimmer.


Skimming can occur in any situation where a cardholder uses an electronic payment card at a brick and mortar location. Fraudsters can obtain information in various ways.

Skimming Approaches

Skimming allows identity thieves to capture information from a cardholder that can be used for making fraudulent transactions. Some fraudsters may simply photo copy or take digital photos of information that can be used fraudulently. Other more advanced technologies also exist. Using a device called a skimmer is a popular approach. Skimmers are technological devices that can be built for use in many different situations. At brick and mortar locations a fraudster can use a small skimming device that allows them to swipe a card and obtain information from its magnetic strip. Some skimmers may also include a touchpad that allows the thief to enter a security code.

Thieves can also build skimming devices that can be used at ATMs and other point of sale locations such as gas stations. Skimming devices can be installed on an ATM with cameras or overlay touch pads also added to capture individual personal identification numbers. Gas stations are also another target where skimming devices can be easily installed since card readers are often outside at the gas pump and separate from a checkout.

Mitigating Compromised Card Information

Cardholders should be cautious of any suspicious devices involved with an electronic payment. In some situations skimmers can be easily detected if a thief uses more than one device to complete an electronic transaction. To avoid providing a potential thief with the opportunity to skim card information, cardholders can seek to ensure that they maintain possession of their card or keep it in sight at all times. Dining at restaurants with a collective checkout can also help to ensure a card is not compromised when taken from the cardholder.

Many businesses will integrate electronic fraud security systems into their payment process which can help protect them from all kinds of fraudulent approaches and cyber attacks. Payment card companies are also broadening their solutions for security and fraud prevention. Cardholders can check with their individual issuers through customer representatives or online resources to gain greater insight into any services or solutions that may be available for helping to increase card security and mitigate compromised card information.

  1. Price Skimming

    Price skimming is a product pricing strategy by which a firm ...
  2. PIN Cashing

    PIN cashing is a type of cybercrime in which stolen debit or ...
  3. Jitter

    Jitter is an anti-skimming technique that distorts the readout ...
  4. Additional Cardholder

    An additional cardholder is an authorized secondary user added ...
  5. New Balance

    The new balance is the sum of the previous balance, payments, ...
  6. Carding Forum

    A carding forum is an illegal website dedicated to the sharing ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    5 Credit Cards For the Super Rich

    Understand the difference between an average credit card and an elite credit card for the wealthy. Learn about the top five credit cards for the super rich.
  2. Personal Finance

    3 Best Credit Cards for Traveling to the UK (COF, BCS)

    Discover three of the best credit cards to use while traveling to the United Kingdom, based on security and rewards programs.
  3. Insights

    How to Avoid the Hijacking of Your Credit Cards

    Arm yourself with these strategies on how to safely use your credit and debit cards, and protect yourself from fraud and identity theft with every swipe.
  4. Personal Finance

    Credit Card Review: Citi Double Cash

    Learn about the Citi Double Cash credit card and its simple cash back program that pays a combined 2% rate on every card purchase.
  5. Personal Finance

    Credit Card Review: Blue Cash Everyday Amex (AXP, KSS)

    Read about the Blue Cash Everyday Amex card, and learn how it saves cardholders money on groceries, gas and other household purchases throughout the year.
  6. Personal Finance

    Debit or Credit at the Gas Pump: An Easy Choice

    Using credit rather than debit at the gas pump doesn't just provide more fraud protection. It also provides consumers with lucrative benefits.
  7. Personal Finance

    Purchases You Should Always Make With A Credit Card

    Credit cards aren't always bad possessions to have. There are certain perks associated with using credit cards as we make routine or irregular purchases.
  8. Tech

    Top Credit Cards For Airline Miles

    Which companies offer the best credit cards for airline miles travel? Two resources to examine closely.
  9. Insights

    How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

    Credit card fraud is sharply up. Learn the worst types and how to protect yourself.
  10. Personal Finance

    How the Victoria's Secret Credit Card Works: Benefits and Rewards (LB)

    Here's how the Victoria's Secret credit card works: application process, the benefits, the downfalls and the other pertinent details.
  1. Am I Responsible for Fraudulent Charges on My Credit Card?

    If your credit card is stolen in the US, federal law limits the liability of card holders to $50, regardless of the amount ... Read Answer >>
  2. How is the minimum payment on a credit card calculated?

    Even when minimum payments are low, consumers should still aim to pay off credit card balances every month. Read Answer >>
  3. Can the Best Buy credit card be used anywhere?

    Learn how the Best Buy credit card can only be used in Best Buy stores and online to make purchases through the Best Buy ... Read Answer >>
  4. Debit card versus credit card

    Can't figure out which card to use when making a purchase decision? Here is everything you need to know about the differences ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center