This App Could Detect Credit Card Skimming Devices

Nov 22, 2017

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Keeping your credit card information secure is a hot topic, especially during the busy holiday travel season. As travelers take to the roads to get to their destinations, credit card skimmers are increasingly becoming a problem, frequently encountered at gas station pumps.

But, if you have an Android phone, you now have an easier way to detect if the gas pump you’re about to insert your credit card into has a skimmer implanted in it. The app, called Skimmer Scanner, from SparkX, works by detecting if there are certain Bluetooth transmissions located close to your phone. It’s those select Bluetooth transmissions that are used to transmit your credit card information from the scanner to the crooks.

The Skimmer Scanner app is free to download from Google Play. Once you’ve downloaded it, open it the next time you go to refill your tank. According to the app’s developers, it works to broadcast over Bluetooth as HC-05 with a password of 1234. If you’re at a pump, open the app, scan your surroundings (5-15 feet) and see if HC-05 is listed as an available connection. To confirm there’s a skimmer, the app will send the character ‘P’ over a terminal. If it gets an ‘M’ in response, the developers say that the reader has likely been bugged and you should inform your local authorities.

Image by Google Play.
Image by Google Play.

According to Denver’s KDVR, the app has been downloaded more than 90,000 times in the three weeks since it’s been available. Colorado-based SparkX says it wants to offer the app on iPhones soon.

With credit card skimmers now cheaper and easier to install than ever, the Skimmer Scanner app may be a useful addition to your Android phone. The TPG team hasn’t tested it yet, but staff members who own Android phones will use it on the road over the holiday season and will report back.

Featured image by Michael Godek / Getty Images.

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