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Credit card thieves and skimmers are becoming more advanced and more of a nuisance everyday. However, experts are beginning to find some ways to protect us further from their threats. Here are some of their tips.

The Basics

We all have to swipe our credit cards at some point in order to make transactions. We swipe to pay for gas and our bills. But sometimes, if we swipe in that one unfortunate slot, we may have been skimmed and we don’t even know it.

When we are skimmed, we are actually giving a lot of valuable information to hackers and scammers. They can use this form of credit card theft for other insidious acts, such as identity theft and to steal our money.

They can do this by stealing data from our debit and credit cards when we swipe on tampered machines.

Some are even too sophisticated to the point that virtual skimmers, or remote malware, can steal information from cards without even having physical contact with the machines.

The dangerous system has been here for almost more than a decade, and experts have been constantly trying to solve this problem ever since.

Unfortunately, the devices they use have “evolved” to such a degree that it’s becoming extremely hard to combat the threat.

According to CNET, hackers can actually form virtual skimmers by first hacking into a bank’s network. This can be done by tricking special administrative members like executives to give access to hackers. This allows them to steal data from various ATMs instead of touching just once. 

Let’s Fight Back

However, netizens are becoming smarter as well. There’s an entire Reddit thread dedicated to find ways to fight the credit card skimmer menace. These include outright fidgeting with all card readers, to the point of snapping fake ones off. They can see the thread itself in Reddit.

Meanwhile, a quirky alternative is an application from SparkFun Electronics.

The application allows phones to detect phony ATM machines. This is because a lot of skimmers already use Bluetooth to gather data. This means sketchy signals can be detected by the phones with the app, especially in vulnerable gas stations.

SparkFun founder Nathan Seidle said they were able to do this in cooperation with local Colorado police. They said they gained access to a popular skimmer called the HC-05, which is usually used to get homemade gadgets a dash of Bluetooth accessibility.

Unfortunately, they also give skimmers a chance to access ATMs wirelessly, as they only cost $3 a pop.

The catch is, since the skimmers can be purchased as a bargain, the names are always HC-05, with a 1234 as its password.

This Skimmer Scanner, which can be downloaded for free in Google Play, also tries to detect these. When it senses a connection, it tries to connect with the 1234 password.

The app will send a letter “P” to the module. If it’s a skimmer, it’s supposed to send back “M.” Skimmers at a distance between 5 and 15 feet can apparently be detected by the app.

Consumers better install this app, however, and ask advice from credit card companies on how to be more careful with skimmers. After all, hackers will eventually recognize the flaw in their current skimming system.

This will inevitably get them some way to do their thieving with ways that aren’t as recognizable.