Question of the Day: What is Skimming?

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 skimming device found at Monroe gas station (Monroe News)
  • 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 (

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.


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