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MARK RECENTLY HAD HIS CREDIT CARD INFO STOLEN, and determined that it was very likely done by a credit card skimmer device at a gas pump. Thanks to a watchful credit card company, the fraudulent charges on Mark’s card were declined without further incident. When he told me about the fraud on his credit card, I let him know that I had recently come across a cool app called Skimmer Scanner that might prevent this kind of thing in the future.

 

First, what’s a credit card skimmer? It’s a device that looks like a normal credit card scanner that you would find on a gas pump, or even an ATM. The would-be-thieves place their skimmer device over the actual card scanner on the gas pump or ATM and victims scan their cards to pay for their gasoline, unaware that the skimmer device is there and that it has recorded their credit card info for nefarious purposes.

 

Skimmer scanner, when activated, scans the nearby area for a Bluetooth signal that is commonly emitted from credit card skimming devices, and will alert you if it finds anything suspicious. I’ve used the app used it myself at gas pumps, and it’s definitely successfully scanning Bluetooth devices, but it hasn’t found any skimmers yet. I’m glad there aren’t skimmers everywhere, but I confess that I kind of want to find one, now that I have a way to detect them.

 

Developer [email protected] says that the app doesn’t scan for every skimmer out there, but does scan for very commonly used skimmer hardware (the “HC-05” Bluetooth radio module), and that he’s working on adding more threat profiles to the app.

 

In addition to using the app, here’s another tip to avoid skimmers

 

For years, the common advice for avoiding this kind of credit-card skimmers is simply to grab the scanner and attempt to wiggle it. If it’s loose, at all, it’s probably a skimmer, so don’t scan your card there.

It’s nice to now have a second line of defense beyond the wiggle-method in the form of an easy-to-use app.

 

You can download the Skimmer Scanner app for Android here. (Not available on the iPhone)

 

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