Card skimmers are hard to spot and on the rise. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

A credit card skimmer seized by police during an investigation into identity theft in Glendale, CA.

Credit card skimmers are increasingly targeting the financially vulnerable nationwide.The FBI estimates card skimming costs consumers and banks around $1 billion yearly.Authorities report a rise in card skimming and EBT fraud, urging vigilance and preventive measures.

Credit card skimmers are on the rise nationwide and they’re targeting the country’s most financially vulnerable people.

The FBI estimates that card skimming costs consumers and banks around $1 billion each year. Last year, Fair, Isaac and Company, a financial data analytics firm, found that debit card skimming grew by a whopping 96% compared to the previous year.

Last month, the federal agents from the Secret Service swept through 472 business in Florida after reports of increased EBT scam fraud, WJXT reported. Police found 13 devices statewide. The Secret Service estimated that police prevented around $1.3 million of losses through the operations, WJXT reported.

Authorities nationwide say reports of card skimming and EBT fraud have increased over the past year.

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services said this week it found an “alarming surge in fraud” related to EBT skimming. The agency estimates EBT recipients lost around $5.5 million over the past two years from the fraud, The Seattle Times reported.

Authorities in Virginia, New York, and other states have also issued similar warnings in recent weeks.

The New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance issued an EBT scam alert on July 2, warning of increases in card skimming and phishing. Phishing is a form of scamming where criminals try to obtain your personal information by pretending to be someone you know or trust; perpetrators will often send emails purporting to be from your bank or from a social media platform you use.

While card skimmers are efficient in stealing data, EBT cards usually require a PIN number that they can’t easily lift from the machine, according to the FTC.

The scammers use phishing tactics like texting or set up hidden cameras next to cash registers to steal the PIN numbers, the agency says.

To avoid card skimming scams, the FTC recommends checking to see if the card reader is loose when paying, changing your EBT PIN number at least once a month, be vigilant for phishing, and regularly check the amount held in your EBT account.

The NY Office of Temporary Disability also recommends checking for discoloration between the body of the machine and the card reader.

“The easiest way to check for a skimmer is to gently pull up on the terminal. They are flimsy and will come right off,” the agency says. “If you notice any signs that a skimmer may be in use do not swipe your card and alert the store manager. Contact the police and notify your local department of social services as soon as possible.”

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