LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Scammers are now using a technique called “e-skimming” to steal credit card data from online shoppers. For years, scammers have used a small device on ATMs, gas pumps, and other terminals, to harvest credit card information.

As technology has improved, this form of “skimming” has become less effective. Now, scammers are using a technique called “e-skimming” to steal credit card data online.

 “You go to a website and it can be any website you go to purchase. You put in your information. Someone has already compromised that website,” Roddy Bergeron, with Enterprise Data Concepts, said. “They’ve got access to it, and they’ve inserted what we call a malicious code that captures your credit card information. Things that are supposed to be secure, and then, they can take that information and use it to make purchases.”

Here’s how e-skimming can happen: You’re shopping online on a reputable website. You put an item in your cart and check out. You enter your credit or debit card number to make your purchase, but the trick, what you don’t see is cybercriminals have hacked into the company’s server and planted malware on the site stealing your information.

“When the cybercriminals impact and access the webserver and get this information, the consumer is not made aware of it until they have purchases that are unauthorized or the business that they were doing the online purchases with is aware, and then realized there’s a breach security and then notifies the customers,” Laurian Clause, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, explained.

Bergeron said sometimes scammers will sell your credit or debit card information to people online through e-skimming.

“Sometimes an attacker will get admin credentials and be able to log into the website and have a code. Sometimes they find a bug on the website and they’re able to use that to get access to the website. That’s the bad part about e-skimming,” Bergeron said. “Everything looks like its secure. Everything looks like it’s legit. It’s someone you’ve always done business with, but there’s something going on. Some malicious actor has gotten access to that server and they’re stealing your information.”

Some tips from the BBB about how you can protect yourself from e-skimming:

  • Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements regularly. If you notice any suspicious activity, call your bank or credit card company to report it.
  • Experts advise you to make online purchases with a credit card. It’s easier to dispute charges made with your credit card. 
  • Consider using a virtual credit card. Some credit card copanies and banks offer virtual cards to their clients. These provide a unique credit card number to use when shopping online.

We don’t want our consumers to go into fear about how to use these websites or even making purchases,” Clause added. “It’s just arming yourself with knowledge that you just need to be careful.”

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