Coronavirus Causes Increased Credit Card Skimmer Risks

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Last updated on November 16th, 2023

As more consumers rely on online shopping during the COVID-19 quarantinecredit card skimmers are taking advantage. Credit card skimming has long been an issue, both online and at popular self-service spots like gas stations and ATMs. However, certain circumstances – such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday – present increased opportunities for online credit card theft 

The coronavirus pandemic offers a similar landscape, with more consumers purchasing essentials, ordering delivery, and supporting small businesses from the safety of the Internet. Not to mention, the virus also has both shoppers and businesses distracted 

Right now, many are focused on adjusting to remote work or a heavily reduced workforce. Yet credit card skimmer detection is more important than ever to ensure businesses and their customers’ wallets can ride out this pandemic.  

How Do Credit Card Skimmers Work Online?

Traditional credit card skimming requires a device. When placed over a regular credit card scannerit scans the card for information when a customer swipesDigital skimming, on the other hand, comes in the form of malware. Credit card thieves create a malicious code, which they then embed into the checkout page of an online store.  

Selling credit card information online allows identity thefts to profit from their theft without the risk of fraudulent charges being traced back to a physical address.

This malware saves the information customers input during the checkout process. In order for this to work, these hackers must take advantage of gaps in the business’s security. This allows them to remain undetected while they embed the code and syphon off credit card info. 

Security firms like RiskIQ and Malwarebytes perform credit card skimmer detection across the internet. In fact, both were responsible for uncovering a few recent attacks; Malwarebytes detected a skimmer on Tupperware’s website, while RiskIQ spotted malware affecting NutriBullet. It’s RiskIQ that has reported a 20% increase in skimming since the pandemic began. 

How to Avoid Credit Card Skimmers on the Internet

Once spotted, security companies report the credit card skimmer to the business affected. It’s the business’s responsibility to then remove the malware and close the gaps that allowed for the attack in the first place. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has made it more difficult to contact these companies, let alone fix these problems.  

Related article: Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams and Credit Card Fraud 

That’s why it’s important for customers to understand the threat and stay vigilant. While it’s impossible to identify a skimmer while online shopping, there are ways to limit the risksIf you’re wondering how to protect yourself from remote credit card skimming, consider taking these precautions: 

  • Stick to big-box stores, which are more likely to have dedicated security teams  
  • Use third-party processors like PayPal whenever possible 
  • Make sure the business’s site is well-maintained and the copyright is recent (you can check this at the bottom of the webpage) 
  • Read through your credit card statements so you can catch any unauthorized use 

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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