BBB Scam Alert: E-Skimming Targets Online Shoppers



For years, scammers have used a small device on ATMs, gas pumps, and other terminals, to harvest credit card information. As technology has improved, this form of “skimming” has become less effective. However, scammers aren’t deterred! Now, they use a technique called “e-skimming” to steal credit card data from online shoppers instead.

How the Scam Works

You are shopping online on a reputable website. You put an item in your cart and proceed to check out. You enter your credit or debit card number and your billing address to make your purchase. Everything seems totally normal.

But what you can’t see is that cybercriminals have hacked into the company’s server and planted malware on the site. This harvests your personal information, including your credit or debit card numbers, as soon as you make a purchase. You won’t be aware your information was stolen until the company discovers the breach and alerts its customers. In other cases, you’ll only find out after scammers use your credit card and fraudulent purchases appear on your statement.

How to Protect Yourself from E-Skimming

  • Keep a close eye on your statements. Check your bank and credit card statements regularly to confirm all charges. If you notice any suspicious activity, call your bank or credit card company immediately to report it. Use the customer service number found on the back of your card or on your monthly statement to make sure you are speaking with the real company.
  • Make online purchases with a credit card. Use your credit card instead of your debit card to make online purchases. It is much easier to dispute charges made with your credit card, plus getting money returned to your debit card can take time.
  • Consider using a virtual credit card. Some credit card companies and banks offer virtual cards to their clients. These provide a unique credit card number to use when shopping online that links to your normal account. If any unusual transactions are made or the number is compromised, other charges are immediately declined.

For More Information

Read more about eskimming in this CNBC story. See more information in this BBB article on skimming and “shimming.” Get advice on protecting yourself online by reading the BBB Tips for Smart Shopping Online.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam after making an online purchase, be sure to report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers and protect other consumers.

Read more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust.

Learn how to become a BBB Accredited Business.

Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

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