After demonetisation, digital transactions have increased by several hundred times in India and with this, the risk of debit and credit card frauds are expected to skyrocket if citizens chose to be ignorant.

Several Bengalureans, earlier in the week, unknowingly fell victim to the debit card fraud dubbed as 'skimming' and lost their hard earned money.

Also read: Samsung Pay finally arrives in India: Here's how to add credit, debit cards and Paytm wallet

Unlike other avoidable frauds which involve fake calls from criminals disguised as bank officials and asking users to phish out their account details, skimming is very sophisticated and victims will not have the chance to block the card before it's too late. Card holders will be notified only after the money is deducted from their accounts, that too if they have opted for balance alerts via SMS or email.

What is skimming?

Skimming is a debit/credit cloning mechanism, wherein criminals install an easily disguisable compact gadget dubbed as 'skimmer' on unguarded ATM (Automated Teller Machines) machines. There are cases of felons using them in PoS (Point-Of-Sale) devices as well.

Fraudsters usually attach skimmers to the card insertion or swiping points so that when victims transact on ATMs or PoSes, the skimmers can duplicate those debit/credits cards.

There are also advanced Skimmers that are capable of sending the information wirelessly which reduces the risk for criminals.

Debit card, skimming, Credit card cloning, debit card cloning,
[Representational Image] What is Skimming and here’s what you can do to avoid falling prey to debit and credit card cloning fraud In Picture: A customer swiping debit card on a PoS (Point-of-Sale) deviceReuters File

Later, they create counterfeit debit/credit cards and illegally use them to draw huge amounts or purchase expensive goods in shops at far off places and also resort to online shopping as it will be very hard for the victim, the bank and also the police to track and apprehend the thieves.

Debit card fraud, credit card fraud, skimming, debit card cloning, credit card cloning
[Representational Image] Telltale signs you should look out for possible Skimming traps In Picture: A man inserting debit card to ATM to machine to draw moneyReuters

Preventive measures to avoid falling prey to skimming:

  • Never go to unguarded ATM booths in secluded and low-lit places.
  • Preferably, go to ATMs attached to a bank and during off hours. There will be at least one security guard
  • Never write down PIN numbers on your debit card and never share it with anybody else
  • While typing in your PIN, use your other hand to cover so that nobody gets to see what you type on the keyboard
  • Be aware where the cameras are present in the ATM. All ATM booths have CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) cameras, but they are placed in such an angle that it will not have the direct view over the keypad. If you find any second camera in the form of a small Webcam, please refrain from drawing any money and notify the bank officials immediately. [Note: Scamsters usually use pin-hole cameras to record your PIN numbers]
  • Before typing your PIN,  test the keypad whether it has any adhesive like substance on it. Also, make sure, there is no gap in the keypad and is fully moulded to the ATM.
  • If you are still using magnetic stripe-based debit/credit cards, then it's high time, you move on the chip-based cards. The latter is very secure as it has an additional security component: integrated Circuit Card Verification Value (iCVVV) aka dynamic CVV. With this, it is next to impossible to clone a chip-based debit/credit card. Furthermore, it requires sophisticated hardware and also too expensive for thieves to invest. So far, there is no reported case of chip-based cards getting cloned in India.

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