How to spot skimmers at the gas pump and ATM

Woman filling up care with gas at gas pump
A student puts fuel in his car before leaving home for college

Skimmers are devices that are illegally installed on ATMs, gas pumps and any other point-of-sale terminals to capture debit and credit card information and record PINs. 

The FBI estimates skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion a year, with some of those incidences happening right here in Cheyenne.

According to law enforcement, debit card skimming grew at an unprecedented rate of 368% from 2021 to 2022, and the first half of 2023 trended even higher.

So, how can you avoid having your card information stolen? Can you spot a skimmer?

What types of skimmers are there?

  1. Some skimmers are attached to the internal wiring of a terminal and aren’t visible. These are operated remotely with Bluetooth technology, and they can be hard to spot. 
  2. Another type of skimmer is a “false front” card skimmer that can be attached to ATMs and gas pumps. The devices fit over the slot where you would insert your card and have the ability to read and retain account information. Before you swipe or insert your card in any point-of-sale device, you can try to rattle it or pull it loose. The legitimate terminals won’t move. If the terminal appears loose or comes free, it’s a skimmer.

Another technique used by criminals is to install a hidden camera somewhere on the machine that can capture your card number and your PIN. They can be hidden within a “false front” device, and the camera can be as small as a pinhole. You should try to cover your hand when you’re entering your number to avoid a camera capturing your PIN.

Tips to avoid skimmers

  • At gas pumps, make sure the pump doesn’t show any signs of tampering. Many stations now put security seals over the panel that will read “void” if the machine has been tampered with.
  • Run your debit card as credit, so you don’t have to enter a PIN. 
  • Monitor your accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.
  • Set up Account alerts in AirTeller.
  • Pay inside when getting gas, or use a pump that is near the front of the store.

Your 2024 financial checklist is here!

If you’re making a (financial end-of-year) list, and checking it twice, you’re well on your way to making your next year nice.

Here are 9 things to do for better finances in 2024. (Our tip: Commit to completing two steps each month, starting in January. By summer, you’ll be in great shape!)

1. Check your credit at annualcreditreport.com  

  • Report any errors you find 
  • Pay off any negative things you see, or ask for settlements

Learn more about credit report best practices—and how our team can help you make the most of your credit report—here.

2. Review all of your accounts.  

  • Go online, or get out those paper statements
  • Make note of all automatic withdrawals (memberships, subscriptions, streaming services, etc.) and any fees; you’ll need these for step 3 and step 4 

3. Review your subscriptions.

  • Review the information you gathered about memberships/subscriptions/automatic withdrawals in step 2
  • Cancel any you haven’t used in the last 30 days

4. Contact all financial institutions.

  • Using the statements you gathered in step 2, review the joint owners and beneficiaries on all accounts
  • Notice any fees? Ask if they can be avoided. If not, consider moving the account.

5. Talk to your HR department at work.

  • Review your 401(k) and other retirement plans to ensure you’re contributing as much as you can afford
  • Verify your beneficiaries, emergency contacts, and other information is up to date
  • Review your FSA/HSA contributions and spend any that’s left over from this plan year
  • Recalculate your payroll withholding amount

6. Contact your insurance agent.

  • Review your coverage and beneficiaries for auto, life, and homeowners or renters insurance policies
  • Ask if there are any discounts available

7. Check on your emergency fund.

  • Ideally, you’ll want at least three months of living expenses in an easily accessible account
  • Don’t have an emergency fund yet? Set up an automatic transfer or use payroll deduction to get started today!

8. Make sure you have copies of important documents.

  • This is one time when paper is better than electronic! Ensure they’re in a secure, fireproof location
  • Let someone in your family (or a close friend) know where these documents are and be able to get to them, if needed 

9. Make sure your will is up to date.  

  • If you don’t have a will, commit to having one in six months.
  • If either you or your significant other travel often, ensure you have an up-to-date power of attorney. 

Tips to stay safe when shopping online

Nearly 90% of Americans say they will do some of their holiday shopping online, which can make the holiday season especially lucrative for fraudsters. 

To avoid getting scammed this season, we recommend following these online shopping tips:

Don’t let the “it’s available, so I have to buy it now” mindset make you a victim. The best way to avoid this is to shop local (when you can), and when you do shop online, only go to retailers you know and trust.  

Don’t click on links in emails or texts to go to a store’s website. This may take you to a fake site that only steals your information. Instead, type the business’ URL in the address bar. If there is a discount attached to a specific link, there is always a way to enter the discount manually at check-out.

Above all, remember that the holidays are not about gifts or how much money you spent. They are about family, peace, and caring for others.  Do not start your New Year with the stress of trying to prove you were ripped off; start off by knowing you did everything you could to make this a happy, safe, and stress-free season for everyone in your life.

One thing to never forget: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Rather than take a chance, take a break—and use that time to call or connect with someone you love.

Important Security Alert: Credit Cards Released on Dark Web

Members: We have been notified that a dark web carding market has released a massive dump of 1,221,551 credit cards, allowing anyone to download them for free to conduct financial fraud.

The threat actors announced the credit card dump on Sunday to promote their new domains. The freely circulating file contains a mix of “fresh” cards expiring between 2023 and 2026 from around the world, but most entries appear to be from the United States. Analysts claim the cards mainly come from web skimmers, which are malicious scripts injected into checkout pages of hacked e-commerce sites. 

Currently, we are working with our security partners to analyze the file of credit cards. If any active cards issued by us are found, we will contact the member immediately. 

Please know: There is no charge to members for this service, and all cards are automatically covered by default. You do not have to register to have the peace of mind that your First Education debit and credit cards are being monitored. 

If you would like more information on this member benefit, please call us at (307) 432-7400, send an email to ms@firstedfcu.com, send a text to (307) 432-7400, or start a conversation in AirTeller. Remember to never include personal information in an email or text message. 

Peer to Peer (P2P) Payment Services

Peer to Peer or Person to Person (P2P) payment services are an easy way to send funds directly from your account to another person. These services are available through several providers via websites and mobile apps.  Funds can be sent quickly often using only a phone number or email address.

However, P2P transactions have risks and do not have the same consumer protections as other transactions. Unlike credit card and debit card transactions, there are no chargeback rights on P2P payment services. This means if you send someone money, even someone who has defrauded you, we may not refund your money.  Your money may also not be refunded if you entered incorrect information and the funds were sent to the wrong person. You will need to work directly with the service provider to have your money refunded.

We may also not refund money for P2P payment services done by a third-party if you provided the third-party with access credentials or other information for your account or device.  This means if you give anyone, directly or indirectly, your username, password, security code, or other information that allows them to access your account or device and they withdraw money from your account using P2P payment services, we may not refund your money.  You will need to work directly with the service provider to have your money refunded.

Never give anyone information that would allow them to access your account or device and only use P2P payment services with people and companies you know and trust.

How to protect yourself from a cyber attack

Here in Wyoming, most of us are familiar with snowy weather and can handle it without much thought.  

However, the cyber storm that started forming just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—and then exploded after—is unfamiliar to most, and possibly more devastating.

The attacks on Russia’s computer and communications networks by the western computer/technology community, from Microsoft to individual hackers, have shown how effective cyberwarfare can be. 

There are also signs of how effective a counterattack could be.  

It is easy to think that we, meaning individuals in the middle of America and small institutions like First Education, will not be impacted. Odds are, that will be true.  

However, it is not guaranteed. This is a new game, and we don’t know what the odds are. 

We do know there aren’t any rules.

The sanctions placed on Russia, its citizens, and allies by the U.S. and other western countries have been effective. Now, they are not only looking for a way to get money but also revenge. They do not care how large or small a business is or how much money an individual has; if they see a weakness, they will seize it.  

What you can do to protect yourself from a cyber attack

  1. Be extra careful about clicking on links or downloading files in your email. If you have any doubt (at all) about an email or website, ask someone. Google the subject or sender.  If you don’t know that person or have no reason to have gotten the email in question, just delete it.  
  2. If you have any suspicion your computer has been infected or compromised in any way, immediately unplug it from the network.  To this, look for the cord that looks like a fat phone line. Unplug that cord from either your computer or the wall, whichever is easier, but DO NOT turn off your computer or unplug the power. If you use Wi-Fi, turn off your modem.

We must also remember that, no matter how devastating ID theft and fraud can be, the issues the people of Ukraine are now facing are inconceivable. The events there have shown us there are people willing to fight for freedom and that politicians can be heroes.  

If you’re looking for a way to support relief efforts in Ukraine, I recommend visiting doglobalgood.org or texting CUS4UKRAINE to 44-321.

Glory to Ukraine.  Glory to Heroes. Слава Україні!   Героям Слава!

Jim Yates

First Education President

10 ways to improve your financial wellness in 10 seconds

Ten seconds out of your day could lead to hundreds of dollars in savings this year! 

If you’ve got 10 seconds, why not…

  1. Unsubscribe from promo emails as soon as you receive them. 
  2. Unfollow your favorite brands and influencers that sell to you.
  3. Reflect on your goals any time you’re about to make an impulse buy.
  4. Check your credit score as one measure of your financial health.
  5. Start using your debit card as a debt-avoidance tactic.
  6. Get comfortable saying “no” to invitations to expensive engagements.
  7. Choose non-brand-name items at the store.
  8. Use the library or start a book exchange.
  9. Remember that numbers, like your income and debt, don’t define you! 
  10. Whether in the store or online, shop with a list and your budget in mind.

Knowing the future starts today, we use our financial knowledge to educate and encourage our members to make smart, well-informed choices about their finances—and about their financial future, too!

If you’d like to learn more about setting up a savings account that supports your goals, we’d love to help. Stop by our branch any time, or give us a call at (307) 432-7400 to get started.

Why it matters to #BeCyberSmart

Woman and daughter on couch looking at tablet together.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A great reminder to “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

“At First Education Federal Credit Union, we take cybersecurity very seriously,” said First Education President Jim Yates. “We believe protecting our members’ personal information is just as important, if not more important, than protecting their money.”

What is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

Held every October, Cybersecurity Awareness Month raises awareness about the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. 

This united effort (of which First Education is proud to be a 2021 Champion) helps maintain a safe, resilient cyberspace for everyone to use. 

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a great time to: 

  • Update your online account passwords to long, unique phrases 
  • Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible
  • Perform any overdue software updates on your computer or phone 
  • Make backup copies of your data, both on and offsite
  • Hold a family “tech talk” and discuss how each family member can protect their devices and personal information
Be Cyber Smart Graphic : October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

We’ll also be sharing weekly cybersecurity tips on Facebook!

Be sure to check in every week through October to see what’s new.

First Education: Supporting Cheyenne Teachers, Students, and Schools!

Along with providing sound financial services, “People Helping People” is what First Education is all about. 

We try to promote this in every aspect of life, including providing sponsorships for the local events and programs listed below.

“Student of the Week” program

Recently, First Education was recognized by the Laramie County School District 1 (LCSD1) Board of Trustees for supporting the Student of the Week Program.  

This is a program we are proud to sponsor. It not only highlights the people that are going to be our leaders, but also shows the results of the hard work our teachers and parents do every day. We thank the Trustees for the recognition, and thank the Administration for the opportunity to sponsor it for the 2021-2022 school year.

The students recognized in the program are not only successful academically, but they are also good people.  A theme in all of their profiles is a willingness to help others. 

If you want to read more about these amazing kids, just Google “LCSD1 student of the week.”

Cheyenne Schools Foundation

Speaking of people helping people and our schools— First Education is also a primary sponsor of the Cheyenne Schools Foundation. This organization provides grants to teachers and other special funding for LCSD1. 

 
We invite you to join us in supporting two upcoming funding events for the Cheyenne Schools Foundation: Cruise the Legend on July 17th,  and their annual Run for Number 1 on August 28th. For more information on each event, visit https://cheyennechoolsfoundation.org. Alternatively, if your business would like to be a sponsor, please contact me at the credit union.

Wyoming Hunger Initiative

Another organization First Education and the Mountain West Credit Union Association is proud to sponsor is the Wyoming Hunger Initiative. This program, started by Wyoming First Lady Jeanie Gordon, has a goal of ending childhood hunger in Wyoming. This is important for education because a child cannot learn if they are hungry. To learn more about the program, visit nohungerwyo.org for more information. 

“Work hard at learning, and be willing to help others.”

In closing, I ask that you all please follow the example of the students of the week: 
Work hard at learning, and be willing to help others.

Jim Yates, President

First Education Federal Credit Union

COVID-19 Guidelines Update

Effective 6/1/2021, individuals entering the credit union will no longer be required to wear face coverings. However, we strongly recommend anyone who is not fully vaccinated to wear a face covering whenever you cannot maintain at least 6′ distancing from others.

Please continue to practice good personal hygiene including washing your hands often and if you are not feeling well or think they may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or other contagious disease stay home and contact a healthcare provider.

Thank you for your support in our continuing effort to keep everyone healthy.