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Skimmers carry a big threat to your card information and your money and are a widespread global problem. So what can you do? Be diligent, be educated, and be aware.

1. What is a card skimmer and why do I need to worry about “skimming”?

A card skimmer is a portable device that is attached in front or on top of a legitimate card scanner, like you see at an ATM or gas pump payment terminal. Normally when you go to make a payment or transaction, you simply insert your card in the payment terminal. Then a legitimate scanner reads your card’s data and prompts you to complete your transaction safely and securely.

Skimmers, on the other hand, are essentially unauthorized card readers. Once you insert your card into a payment terminal that has been compromised with a skimming device, the skimmer illegally records your card data to be used by thieves to access your money.

Thieves will also often place a hidden camera somewhere on the machine to view and record your PIN.

2. What can I do to avoid payment terminals or card readers with skimmers?

Card skimmers are designed to blend in and not be easily detectable. But here is a checklist of what you can do to stay a few steps ahead of thieves:

  • Check for tampering . When you’re at an ATM, check to see if anything looks out of place or doesn’t look or feel right (different colors or materials on the terminal, crack or dents in the card reader, loose equipment and buttons, dried glue, alignment of the key pad, etc.) If something doesn’t look right to you, walk away and report it.
  • Check the PIN pad. Does the keyboard on the ATM feel odd to you? Too thick or keys wiggling and moving around? It’s possible that an overlay is covering the regular PIN pad, designed to steal your PIN information. If the PIN pad looks and feels off, walk away and report it.
  • Cover the PIN pad . Make sure to cover the PIN pad while you enter your number, in the event a hidden camera has been installed.
  • Check nearby ATM card readers or gas pumps to see if they match what you’re using . If the card reader and overall set-up look different than the terminal you’re using, walk away and report it.
  • Check your account regularly . Keep an eye on your account balance and account activity and report any suspicious activity immediately. The easiest way to do this? Sign up for FAIRWINDS account e-Alerts. Get up-to-date, customized alerts via email or text message on all the latest happenings with your account. Know when specific transactions clear, your balance changes, or reaches a certain dollar amount, and more.

3. What happens if my card information is stolen by a skimmer?

First and foremost, please be reassured that you will be reimbursed for any losses that you incur as a result of card skimming fraud.

If you suspect unauthorized activity on your account or see account activity that you don't recognize, you have a few options:

  • Log in to your FAIRWINDS Online Account, select "Credit Cards" from the top blue bar, and then choose "Dispute Charge" from the Quick Links menu.
  • Call 407.277.5045 and follow the prompts for fraud or dispute.

Here are some helpful tips before you report:

  • Identify the potentially unauthorized transactions by reviewing your account activity.
  • If possible, confirm that the transactions were not completed by other cardholders on the account.

4. Any final suggestions?

Yes. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of being aware of and on top of your account activity. Be sure to sign up for automated account e-Alerts and receive up-to-date alerts to your text or email. The more diligent you are, the less likely you’ll find yourself as a victim of skimming.