When travelling, I am always aware of the security of my personal information held on my credit cards and with the constant changes in technology, how easy it is for fraudsters to skim that information.

So how can your information be skimmed?  There are two main ways this can happen.  Firstly your card can be put through a skimming device.  This could occur when you place your card in an ATM machine or give it to a waiter at a restaurant who then takes your card away to process the payment.  The Identity Theft Resource Centre in the United States has provided a list of the 5 most likely places your credit card could be skimmed.  These are:

  1. Gas / Petrol station pump
  2. ATM machines
  3. Restaurants and bars
  4. Department stores
  5. Call centres.

Secondly, your card could be skimmed through the use of a skimming device that doesn’t even have to come into contact with your card.  You can have your cards in your wallet or purse and a person in close proximity to you can skim your card details.

So what can you do.  In the first case, always be aware of what you are doing with your card, for example if placing it in an ATM machine, check if the slot may have a skimming device placed on it (check out this YouTube video).  Another way to protect your card is to not let it out of your site in restaurants or department stores or other places where you pay with your credit card – this makes it harder for the person to run your card through a skimmer if you are watching.

But what about when your cards are in your wallet / purse?  You may have heard of the term RFID.  This stands for Radio Frequency Identification Technology.  Security devices are now being developed with RFID security which effectively provides passive protection to your cards while they are in your wallet / purse.  This means that as long as your RFID protection is with your cards (and passports also), your cards should not be able to be skimmed.

An example of these devices is from RFIDCLOAKED who have developed a business card sized card that slips into your wallet.  Check out RFIDFCLOAKED’s card on Kickstarter HERE.  It’s a low cost and convenient way to protect your identity.

So, be aware of how your cards could be skimmed and make sure you protect your personal data and yourself from identity theft.