There are ways to protect yourself from card fraud that don't require too much legwork on your part. The easiest way to accomplish that is to start paying for things with a credit card that isn't directly linked to your bank account. The reasoning behind this was brilliantly explained by Frank Abagnale Jr., the individual the film Catch Me if You Can was based on.
If your debit card information is stolen, that money is taken out of your bank account and you have to wait for the bank to give it back to you, which could take several weeks. With a credit card, you'll always have your cash in your account to use in the event of an emergency while you wait for the company to investigate the purportedly fraudulent activity.
There are tons of methods that scammers employ in an attempt to separate you from your hard-earned cash, like common phishing scams that masquerade as official-looking emails which are designed with the sole purpose of making you click a link and input your personal information.
There are also credit card skimmers that crooks craft and use in an effort to directly lift the information right off of your card while you're processing a transaction at a brick-and-mortar store you believe you're otherwise safe to offer your patronage at.
Apparently, this one TikToker found a skimmer at a 7-11 location in Mill Valley, Calif..
If you aren't familiar with a credit card skimmer, they're designed by unscrupulous folks who put a lot of effort into blending them into the point of sale system machines folks use to make their purchases.
Often, criminals will install them on "self-serve" devices that are usually left unattended for extended periods of time. Prime targets are exterior, third-party ATMs, and gas station pumps, however, they can be installed anywhere really. The way the machines work are simple: with every swipe that's entered, a small data file containing that information is saved to an SD card or other storage device small enough to fit inside the skimmer.
It's not the fact that TikTok user @willhunter908 found a skimmer that has so many people talking in the comments section, though. What really made an impression on users was the reaction of the employee behind the counter at the 7-11 to the discovery of the card skimmer.
"Just did it again," Will says while holding up the skimmer in front of the employee. "That's f**ing crazy. I'm not gonna pay card," he says after tossing the skimmer on the counter. He picks it back up again. "That's f***ing crazy man."
The employee asks, "Can I see?"
"No I'm gonna take it," the TikToker says. "Thanks though."
"You can't do that man," a voice off-camera can be heard saying. The TikToker then laughs and then the video cuts out.
The video is currently the only one posted to @willhunter908's account on the platform. Tons of commenters who saw the clip thought that the 7-11 worker's lack of surprise indicated he may have been the culprit behind the installation of the credit card skimmer.
In 2017, it was announced that 7-11 would use NEC as its primary point-of-sale system installer. The store operates on both licenses and franchises for folks who are interested in owning and operating the stores, which means that while you may find the same types of items and offerings at 7-11's all across the country, it's not uncommon to find some that are run differently.
Judging from the quick video uploaded by @willhunter908, it appears that the POS system installed at the Mill Valley location seems very similar to the ones that you would find at others. How the TikToker noticed that there was a credit card skimmer over it, however, is hard to say as he hasn't uploaded any further media speaking to the incident.
Have you ever encountered a credit card skimmer, or looked at your balances after the fact and seen a bunch of transactions you just couldn't account for? Does seeing stuff like this make you want to get a new credit card number every few months?