Most people carry multiple credit cards, but now even our phones can pay for things. However, as convenient as this is, it also increases the risk of fraud as you never actually see the money leave your pocket. With these tips, you can make sure that you never lose a dime to a scammer while you’re out on your next shopping spree.

1. Check how far your card goes in.

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An easy way to avoid a scam is to watch out for machines that have been tampered with. Tampering with a machine is also known as ‘Skimming’.

May be the machine may have been tampered with.

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Once you’ve finished your shopping and have inserted your card to pay, it should be left out by about an inch. If you notice it go in any further, then the machine may have been tampered with.

2. The size of the machine.

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Skimming machines are usually slightly larger than normal ones, so try to remember the size of your usual machine when you are suspicious. It could save you a lot of money!

Take the width of the machine into account too.

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Skimming machines can sometimes have thicker rims to account for the malicious hardware.

3. The brightness of the screen.

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When a skimmer is in the machine, it can block the screen highlight mechanism making it darker. Make sure to check how bright the screen is, because if it’s dim, it may have been tampered with.

If they seem dim?

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The same point can be applied to the brightness on the buttons that can light up. If they seem dim it could be suspicious.

4. The light on the machine.

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If the machine has a light on the top which doesn’t seem to be working, it may have been blocked by the skimmer so take caution.

Here you can see what the light should look like

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When the card machine is in use, the light should look like this. They are usually placed at the top and are well lit.

5. Missing stylus.

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Terminals with Skimmers don’t allow a stylus to fit into the side. Make sure to notice this when you’re about to give your signature.

If there isn’t a stylus?

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You’ll notice that all regular terminals have a stylus attached to allow you to sign on the machine with ease. If there isn’t a stylus, your alarm bells should be ringing.

6. Warning symbols and errors.

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If you see a warning symbol appear or notice a problem with the machine, it could be a sign that it has been tampered with. Skimmers slow down the functions of the card machine and can affect the magnetic strip reader, causing faults.

7. Carry an extra card.

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Even though you’ve read about all of the potential problems to spot with a card reader, sometimes it can still be hard to spot a scam. Always carry a spare debit card with a set limit in case of emergencies.

8. Keep your card.

 

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When paying for a meal in a restaurant, make sure you never hand over your card to the employee as you don’t know what they could do with it. Always handle your own transactions.

9. Check receipts.

 

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Always make sure to quickly read over your receipt after you’ve paid for something. You may notice a strange amount on there or even a blank space in the ‘amount paid’ field. This could indicate a fraudulent payment.

10. Set spending limits.

 

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Setting spending limits with your bank can protect you if you are a victim of fraud as it limits the amount of money that they can take from you. This minimizes the potential money lost.

11. Insurance policies.

 

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If you are a victim of a scam or fraud, you can speak to your bank about card insurance policies as they can offer a reimbursement with some fraud cases.

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