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Credit Card-Sized Device That Tests for Skimmers in Card Readers

Quickly and Accurately Detects if Card Payment Readers Are Safe to Use

Inserting this device into a card reader before you insert your credit card can alert you to the presence of credit card skimmers so you won’t be scammed. Skimmers (and shimmers) are malicious card readers attached to the interior or exterior of the real payment terminal that are intentionally difficult for the average consumer to detect. Skimming is a type of identity theft in which thieves steal the data on your payment cards to empty your bank account or buy goods and services on your credit. In 2018, more than $24 billion was lost to payment card fraud worldwide. The United States is the global leader in credit card fraud. While consumers can use safer forms of payment – such as creating dummy credit card numbers, using Apple Pay or Android Pay, or paying the cashier inside rather than the pump – most, nearly 50 percent in the United States, will find themselves a victim of card payment fraud at some point. The increasing prevalence of these attacks points to the need for a consumer-side anti-skimmer defense apparent.


Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a credit card-sized device that quickly and accurately tests for the presence of skimmer devices when inserted into an ATM slot or other card payment system. The New York Police Department as well as units in retail, law enforcement, and financial industries across 21 states across the nation have used the device, named the Skim Reaper, with success.




Credit card-sized device for the detection of overlay skimmers in ATMs and card payment devices



  • Works quickly and accurately, providing sure protection against identity theft and payment card fraud with no inconvenience
  • Simulates a debit or credit card, making it easy to carry and use prior to inserting a payment card
  • Uses lights to indicate a card reader is safe or unsafe, giving clear guidance for the consumer or commercial user


This credit-card-sized device can be inserted into the slot of a payment card receiver to determine if more than one read head is present. Additional read heads indicate the presence of a skimmer attempting to gain sensitive card data. The card provides alerts – red light to indicate a skimmer, blue light to show a card reader is safe. Consumers can use the Skim Reaper to test card slots for skimmers before use. Commercial business owners or law enforcement could use the device to check card readers periodically. The skimmer detection system could have two primary components, which may exist as a single physical device, multiple devices, or via a hardware/software combination (such as a physical device and an app on a smartphone). Researchers have developed additional functionality such as that which would allow the device to identify itself to a card reader terminal and log when the reader was last examined, etc.

Patent Information:
App Type: Patent No.: Patent Status:
ORD/UTIL 10,496,914 Issued CON 10,936,928 Issued