Whenever you put your card into a gas pump or an ATM you run the risk of having your information skimmed.
To some extent, skimming is one of those things you don’t realize you’re a victim of until long after it happens. In the past few months, I’ve had a number of friends discover that their credit card numbers were being used by identity thieves who presumably captured their credit card information while they were pumping gas or withdrawing money. Now there’s an app that might be able to help prevent you becoming a victim.
Called Skimmer Scanner, the Android app (unfortunately, there’s no iPhone version) looks for a Bluetooth module near that ATM or gas pump that is typically used with credit card skimmers. ZDNet explainsthat the module is what typically allows skimmers to download all the credit card numbers they’ve captured without getting detected. The skimmer transmits number to the module where they’re all saved until someone comes along to collect them. Since the person isn’t physically interacting with the skimmer, they could just be sitting in a car nearby or even standing beside the offending pump at the gas station downloading numbers.
You’d think that a device broadcasting a Bluetooth signal would catch someone’s attention, but apparently not.
However, that Bluetooth signal can work to your advantage. Using Skimmer Scammer, the app will find the Bluetooth signal coming from the skimmer and let you know that where you’re thinking about using your card is potentially unsafe.
As it turns out, a lot of scammers acquire the exact same skimmers, and they’re not super knowledgeable about how they work, so they don’t know how to fix their security vulnerabilities (go figure?). Most of the modules have the same device name (HC-5) and a pairing passcode of 1234.
It’s not a fool-proof plan. This app is only going to find one type of skimmer, but it’s the most popular one. That said, launching the app before you fill up your tank or use that ATM in the back of the bar could help you detect a non-tech-savvy criminal and save yourself the headache of dealing with stolen credit card numbers.