How Does Credit Card Skimming Work?

Skimming is a scheme that requires a device, often referred to as a skimmer or a wedge, that scans and stores a large amount of credit, debit or ATM card numbers.

Card skimming is more frequent in businesses where an employee is able to remove the credit card from the customer’s view in order to run the transaction.

A research done by the Barclays bank in 2015 indicates that most card fraud occurs in the U.S.A.

It’s responsible for 47% of the world’s card skimming schemes despite only accounting for 24% of the total worldwide card volume.

Card Skimming Methods

Credit cards are favored targets.

  • It mostly happens in gasoline stations, through attachment of covert devices in ATMs, vending machines or self-service check out kiosks. These devices are occasionally paired with a tiny hidden camera meant to record the input of a user’s PIN. Consumers must be wary of any card readers that seem awkwardly installed, or appear to have been tampered with.
  • Card skimming also happens in restaurants whereby a customer hands his credit card to a waiter who walks away with the card, swipes the card through a wedge while conducting the legitimate transaction.

Skimming has led to the migration of cards to EMV micro-processing chip technology which is less vulnerable to card fraud.

How to Report Credit Card Skimming

According to the Card Fraud report 2015, the reason why the U.S.A has high amount of fraud is because it has been slow to adopt EMV and Point of Sale Terminals.

The U.S.A is implementing EMV, and once widespread, card skimming is expected to drop.

However, card-not-present fraud is expected to continue being a problem in the U.S.A.

Skimming References

  1. Whitlock, Charles R. Easy money. New York, NY:Kensington Books
  2. Wells, Joseph T.Fraud Examinaton: Investigative and Audit procedures. New york, NY:Quorom Books,1992.



2 thoughts on “Skimming

  1. Sonja Luther says:

    Wow, I had no idea that there were so many varieties of skimming. I have heard of it, especially in gas stations or restaurants where the employees remove the card from the point of sale and scan it — once in the legitimate store’s wedge, and another time in their own personal device.

    These thieves are quite creative in what they can do, so it pays to be very careful.

    Thanks for shedding some light!

  2. No Identity Theft says:

    Hi Sonja and thank you for finding the article informative. It’s scary to find out how brazen some of these identity thieves are. I have said it time and time again how important awareness is. Most people just don’t pay attention. Most issues would be averted if people would be diligent with their identity and the way they spend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.