Look before you swipe, and don't ever swipe your debit card. Wherever possible, dip your chip-enabled credit card instead of swiping it.
We've said this all before. Today, security journalist Brian Krebs gives us reason for a reminder.
The card skimmers that thieves use to steal the data about you and your account—data that is stored in the magnetic stripe—are so well crafted these days that it is difficult to tell they're a ruse. Take a look at the photo here. Can you tell it's a fake?
Probably not. Here is what it looks like before the thief snaps it onto the existing point-of-sale device:
This device records your account information when you swipe your card, including your PIN. The data is downloaded later when the fake front is retrieved by the thief.
These were found installed in Walmart stores in Virginia and Kentucky. But they can be installed anywhere that uses this particular Ingenico credit card terminal. Grocery store shoppers suffered card thefts when similar devices were installed at Safeway stores a few months ago.
For more information and a surveillance snapshot of criminals installing an overlay skimmer at a Walmart self check-out station, see Brian Krebs' blog posting Skimmers Found at Walmart: A Closer Look.
If your card is chip-enabled, dip it. And never swipe your debit card.