Attorney General Alerts

Spot Skimmers and Keep Your Cash

July 7, 2016

Scammers are adapting as technology continues to advance. While card reader fraud has been around for a number of years, these con artists are finding new ways to steal your money, like placing a skimmer on a credit and debit card reader.

A skimmer is a malicious card reader that goes over the existing card reader and is designed to steal data off the card’s magnetic stripe. These readers are small and can be installed anywhere there is a card reader, including ATMs and at the gas pump. The thief then clones the cards for his or her own use.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans about this scam and provide tips to avoid falling victim to skimming.

“This type of card reader scam has evolved over the last decade, with CBS News reporting skimming instances rising 546 percent between 2014 and 2015,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “While that number is staggering, there are some clues Arkansans can look for that could be signs of a tampered card reader. Hard-working Arkansans should remain diligent in protecting their personal and financial information.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to catch a skimmer:

  • Check for obvious signs of tampering. If something looks different, such as a different color or material or the graphics are not aligned correctly, do not use that card reader.
  • Wiggle everything, including the card reader. ATMs are solidly constructed and usually will not have any parts that loosen. Also wiggle the card as it is inserted. PC magazine reports that the skimmer needs the card to go in straight to read the data correctly, but most ATMs take the card and return it later so the movement will not affect the transaction but could foil a skimmer.
  • Cover your hand while entering the PIN number. Criminals need your PIN number in order to use the card and will often set up small, hidden cameras to watch you enter the number. Shielding the keypad with your free hand could protect your bank account.
  • Use ATMs in busy locations. Scammers need time to install the skimming equipment and are less likely to take that risk if there are people around. ATMs inside banks and grocery stores are usually safer than those outside on the sidewalk.
  • Monitor both your bank account and credit card transactions and report any theft to your bank or card issuer as soon as possible. Consider setting up text or email alerts that go straight to your phone so that banks and credit card companies can reach you as soon as they notice any suspicious activity.
  • Use a credit card whenever possible because credit card transactions can be halted and reversed at any time. Meanwhile, an unauthorized debit transaction needs to be caught within 48 hours to keep your liability for the transfer low.

Because most of the current chip-enabled cards currently being used in the U.S. are also equipped with the magnetic stripe, they will not be protected from this type of scam.

For more information on steps to take if your identity has been stolen and other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or or visit or

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