Question of the Day: What is Skimming?

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Nov 18, 2014
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Activity, Question of the Day, Credit Cards, Identity Theft, Lesson Idea, Debit Cards

I thought about an activity that might engage students to learn more about identity theft.  One popular way to steal an identity is through “skimming.”  What is skimming?

From Fox News:

“It’s a small digital gadget that reads the magnetic information from your credit or debit card. Thieves install them in ATMs, gas pumps and vending machines, or they use a handheld unit to steal thousands of cards in no time and make millions of dollars.”

I searched Google News over the past month and there were over 1400 references to “credit card skimming.”  Here is a sampling of headlines:

  • Credit card skimmers found at RTD light rail stations (Denver Post)
  • West Haven police seek attempted ATM “skimming” suspects (NBC Connecticut)
  • Overland Park man admits skimming credit cards at Taco Bell (KMBC)
  • I-Drive Hotel employee used skimming device (WFTV.com)

Now that students are convinced this an issue, send them out for a WebQuest to find ways to protect themselves from skimmers.  Ask them to come up with at least three strategies.

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Check out the NGPF Lesson on Scams, Frauds and Identity Theft

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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