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Card skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strips found on credit and debit cards. Card skimming is considered a more direct version of a phishing scam. Store clerks who skim cards may do so by having customers swipe their cards more than once, or by taking the card to another location within the store. Card skimming may also occur when a perpetrator rigs an ATM with a card skimmer. The end result of card skimming is unauthorized access to finances through the technique of illegal copying of debit and credit cards.
Over the years, card skimming has become more sophisticated and more difficult for cardholders to detect. Card skimmers now employ features such as tiny pinhole cameras to record ATM users' PIN numbers, which can be transmitted along with card data to a remote receiver.
In order to avoid card skimming, consumers must be on the lookout for red flags such as suspicious devices in ATM card slots, or store clerks who swipe cards through more than one device.
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards Council works to battle card thieves through new payment proposals such as chip-based mobile payments as opposed to magnetic strips. The PCI council has also charged itself with more consumer education about the signs of card stripping, as education may be the best defense against this type of electronic crime.