Travel Peace of Mind

by Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Card, passport & phone skimmers – unfortunately, it’s something we now have to prepare for, not only when travelling overseas, but in our own backyard. The skimming technology is so advanced nowadays that it’s quite possible to be skimmed from 20 metres away!

Catriona herself has been the victim of skimming, so how can we protect against identity theft?

Catriona spoke with Peter Samios, Creator of SkimGuard to find out…

How does SkimGuard work? 

The SkimGuard is the size of a credit card and it sits anywhere in your purse or wallet and it’ll protect you 24 hours a day from being skimmed. It doesn’t have any batteries, that’s the beauty of it, it can never go flat.

EFTPOS machines sit on a particular bandwidth, so what the skimmers have done is created a machine that replicates an EFTPOS machine on the same bandwidth in order to obtain your card, passport and phone banking details.

The skimmers print off 3000 or so false cards in the name of whoever, they then put false numbers on them, scan your credit card details by computer into a chip and put this same chip into the false card, then they just go around and ‘tap and go’ and have a great time.

Ask yourself, when was the last time a shop assistant checked your identity matched your card when you used ‘tap and go’?

When skimming happened to me, I was in the street and all I had on me was a crossbody bag, my credit card, a couple of bits of make-up for work and my phone, that’s it. How does the skimming actually take place? 

They can get you from 20 metres away, depending on how sophisticated this skimmer is. Most skimmers are the size of a packet of cigarettes, they put this skimmer in their pocket and they walk on by. So if you’re in a busy shopping centre shopping for Christmas presents you can get skimmed, if you’re on an escalator you can get skimmed, if you’re in a lift or you’re walking along the street you can get skimmed. No one needs to brush up against you, that’s a scary thing and believe it or not, there’s actually a free skimmer app that you can get on your phone and using it – I could skim you right now.

So how does SkimGuard help? I don’t have much room inside my wallet… you remember that movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney, where he was the frequent flyer and there was a moment where he and his love interest opened their wallets and were comparing all of their different cards? That’s me, that’s my life, I have so many cards!

SkimGuard is just one card and it doesn’t have to go right next to your cards. It’s only the size of a credit card itself, so it doesn’t take up much space.

When a skimmer comes near you, there’s an antenna output in the SkimGuard that sucks the power from the skimming machine over radio waves, it creates an electronic field around your card/s, so it sees and blocks these skimming signals coming in. When the skimmer goes out of range, it just goes back to sleep.

Does that impact your health?

Absolutely not, when we talk about an electronic field we’re just talking about a forcefield that only comes on for a millisecond when the skimmer is around.

Skimming can impact passports too?

The latest passport, the Smartgate ePassport, is brilliant – you get in and out so much faster but they’ve got a similar chip in them to credit cards. Skimmers can sit in the waiting area of an international airport and skim you upon entering.

The SkimGuard Passport Holder protects all the sensitive information in your passport. After all, the skimmer wants your name, address, date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, your Medicare number and driver’s licence number so they can commit crimes like taking out personal loans in your name, or they can go into a shop and purchase a new phone plan in your name, then they can pop it on eBay to sell it.

You should also have a SkimGuard in the back of your phone case to protect your bank details.

To find out more connect with SkimGuard below:


Call: 1800 616 248


Tune into 2UE Talking Lifestyle this Saturday from 2-4pm for more travel tips, advice and inspiration. You can also call in during the show on 13 12 83.