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How to Guard Against Card Skimmers

Follow these steps to protect yourself from thieves who use devices to steal your credit and debit card information.

There are plenty of ways that thieves can steal your credit and debit card information. One of the more sophisticated -- and increasingly prevalent -- techniques is skimming. Thieves place an electronic device on ATMs that captures card information. They also use tiny cameras to record customers' PINs. These devices, which also can be installed at locations other than ATMs where people swipe debit and credit cards, can be difficult to detect. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against card skimmers, says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com.

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Here are his recommendations, along with advice from the FBI:

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-- Inspect before you swipe. Tug the card swiper to see if there's any movement or if it comes off. Also look for any signs of damage or adhesive tape residue.

-- Cover the keypad with your other hand as you enter your PIN to block the view of any cameras.

-- Use an ATM at an indoor location if possible because it's more difficult for thieves to access these machines to install skimmers.

-- Be wary of ATMs in tourist areas because they're popular targets of skimmers. Also avoid generic ATMs -- stick with bank ATMs at a branch to be safe.

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-- Check your accounts regularly for suspicious charges or withdrawals.

If you think your card has been skimmed, contact your bank or credit-card company immediately. For more information about safeguarding your cards, see Protect Yourself Against Credit Card Theft.

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