Card cloning is on the rise. Here’s how to stay safe and how to spot a debit or credit card skimmer.

Card cloning is on the rise, with someone in South Africa, falling victim on average every four minutes, according to campaign group Financial Fraud Action. The practice helps criminals steal more than 47 million every year. To help you stay safe, we explain everything you need to know about card cloning, including how to stay safe and how to spot an ATM or cash point that has been tampered with. What is card skimming? A common way cards can be cloned is through the use of a card skimmer. This is a capture device that allows a criminal to record all the data on a card so they can they take money from the victim's account. A card skimmer is most often placed on ATM card slots, but criminals have been known to put them on any machine that accepts debit and credit cards Less sophisticated card-skimming cons also require the criminals to capture your PIN separately, and so they will install a tiny camera pointing at the keypad. These are often built into a false front on the machine and can be extremely difficult to spot. How to spot a card skimmer There are a number of tell-tale signs a machine has been tampered with. Keep an eye out for:

  • A bulky card slot

  • A loose or blocked card slot

  • A loose or ‘spongey’ pin pad

How to stay safe If it’s not immediately obvious a card skimmer is in place, there are a few more things you can do to stay safe.

Try giving the keypad and card slot a wiggle. If either feels loose then don’t insert your card at all. Second, do your best to cover the keypad when entering your PIN just in case there’s a camera installed.

Finally, if the machine swallows your card then call the bank while you’re still in front of the machine, if you can. What to do if you spot a machine that’s been tampered with If you suspect that something isn’t quite right, don’t insert your card, obviously. You should also report it to the police. Don’t be tempted to take any of the devices away as the gangs could come after you to get them back.

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