Watch out for card skimming: Police

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Christmas shoppers and holiday bargain hunters are being warned about potential fraud from credit card skimming.

Christmas shoppers and holiday bargain hunters are being warned about potential fraud from credit card skimming.

According to a statement from NSW Police, the holiday season was a "prime time for credit card skimmers".

Detective Acting Superintendent Colin Dyson, NSW Police fraud squad commander, said people should treat their card like it was cash and make sure they never lost sight of it.

"If possible, don't give your card to a waiter or shop assistant and let them walk out of your sight," he said. "If you intend destroying receipts and other personal information material which link your name to specific account number information, ensure they are completely destroyed, so they cannot be retrieved."

“Under no circumstances provide anyone with your credit card PIN, especially over the phone. Only provide personal information when you are sure you know who you are talking to and there is good reason to provide it,” Dyson said.

He said criminals used a small device which about the size of a pager or mobile phone, to capture information from a card's magnetic strip.

The information was saved onto a memory chip and accessed to create an illegal copy of the card, according to NSW Police. "The illegal device is usually stored near the legitimate card pad at the retail counter and looks similar to the legitimate device."

NSW Police has teamed up with the Australian Bankers' Association (ABA), Crime Stoppers, and financial institutions to promote public awareness of card skimming.

It's not the first time police in Australia have warned consumers about credit card skimming. Earlier this month, ACT Policing warned people about fraudsters who were posing as bank officers, trying to get people to reveal personal banking information.

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