What is Debit Card Skimming and how can you prevent it?

It is becoming increasingly common: debit and credit cards being skimmed. How does this work and what can you do about it? Skimming involves criminals illegally obtaining credit and debit card information. The magnetic stripe and the PIN code are copied when you make a payment transaction. It happens in a very devious way, without you even realizing it. The criminals make a copy of your card and PIN code and then plunder your bank account. With skimming, criminals use a device that can read and copy the magnetic stripe on your debit or credit card. This device is in the machine where you make a transaction or where you want to withdraw money. The device is placed in front of the slot where you insert your card, and looks like a kind of put-on front. The criminals look over your shoulder to see which PIN code you enter or install a mini camera that records your code.

Drop off pass

Another way of skimming is the following: you hand over your debit or credit card in, for example, a store or a restaurant. The person who accepts the card copies the data. No one knows how it works, but there appears to be a method to retrieve your PIN code.

A lot of damage

Skimming is common. In 2009, the damage after skimming was no less than 36 million euros. Most skimming took place at the NS stations. The NS has now taken measures. Every ticket machine is equipped with the new secure card input.


Skimming can happen to anyone, even if you pay close attention, you can become a victim. How can you best prevent skimming? Pay attention to people standing too close to or behind you. By keeping a small distance, they can easily look over your shoulder and read your PIN code. Always shield your PIN code with your hand. This prevents the PIN code from being recorded via a camera. Check your bank balance and transactions regularly. If strange transactions have taken place, block your account immediately. Each bank has its own telephone number for this purpose. False fronts, i.e. the front where you insert your card, often run less smoothly than legal fronts. If it doesn’t run smoothly, switch to another device. If you have the choice between an indoor device and an outdoor device, choose indoor. It is still more difficult to build illegal fronts inside a room than outside. Set a withdrawal limit for yourself. If you have become a victim of skimming practices, the damage will be somewhat limited. Although of course it remains unpleasant if someone else spends your money. If you want to pay in a store or a restaurant, stay close to your debit or credit card. Walk with the person who takes your pass. This way you don’t give a chance to copy the data.


If you have been a victim of skimming, you will in principle be compensated by the bank. In principle, if the bank suspects that you have been careless with your debit card, an excess may be deducted or the damage may not even be reimbursed at all. However, it takes a lot of time and effort to prove that you have been a victim of skimming. So try to prevent it as much as possible.