How to protect your bank cards from skimming

SkimProt sticker
Does SkimProt signal the end of card fraud?

Ever been the victim of an ATM scam where your debit or credit card has been copied and you’ve been completely unaware of it until you’ve checked your bank statement?

Skimming – as it’s known – is when unscrupulous characters ‘skim’ your data from the magnetic stripe on the back of your bank card using an illegal scanner. These scanners are difficult to detect – you probably wouldn’t notice if an ATM had been tampered with.

They’re not just found on cash machines though; they can also come in the form of handheld readers.

It’s one of the reasons you shouldn’t let your cards out of your sight in a shop or restaurant. In today’s era of the hand-held POS, there shouldn’t be any reason for the waiter or shop assistant to remove your card from view.

So how can you tell if your card has been skimmed?

You can’t. Not until your bank balance alerts you, that is.

The only way to ensure it doesn’t happen to you is to prevent it in the first place, which is what SKIMPROT Ltd. have been busying themselves with.

Their anti-skimming multilayer protective label SkimProt (or put in clear English, a sticker that you put on your bank card) has just won the SESAMES Award for Card Manufacturing innovation at the recent CARTES Secure Connections Convention in the US.

Which is high praise and advocacy indeed. When placed above a card’s magnetic stripe, SkimProt’s four layers hides the personal information of the cardholder, whist also protecting the card itself from wear and tear in your pocket.

So how does the ATM read it then? 

One of SkimProt’s layers is a clever magnetic stripe containing a code that tells the ATM to refer to the card’s chip and zeros to verify the card instead. Which is a more secure way of you getting your cash anyway.

The sticker doesn’t alter the card in anyway, and it can be easily removed.

Will it catch on?

SkimProt’s statistics show that in the UK alone, the loss from skimming in 2012 was over £38 million, and that 80-90% of all bank fraud is related to skimming. So the answer has got to be ‘yes’. And with a big nod in the form of an award from CARTES, it’s likely to be protecting our cards sooner rather than later.

The question is, will the banks stump up for the cost, or will they pass that responsibility on to their customers?

Two stickers are currently available on the SkimProt site for €9.90 + €3 shipping.

For more information see http://www.skimprot.com/#top