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UF professor's 'Skim Reaper' detects credit card skimmers

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A University of Florida professor is working with law enforcement to detect skimming devices that could steal your credit card information.

Professor Patrick Traynor says in the last three years, he’s had his credit card skimmed six times.

“As an information security professional, I’m kind of embarrassed by this. If I can’t protect myself, who possibly can,” Traynor said. “It happens at gas pumps, it happens at ATMs, it happens inside stores. Anywhere you can swipe a card, bad guys can steal it.”

Traynor was determined to sit down with his students and find a way to protect average people, and themselves. Their solution is the device they call the “Skim Reaper.”

“The Skim Reaper is basically a credit card shaped device that you use like a regular credit card, it counts the read heads in the device and will tell you in a second if you have a skimmer,” Traynor said.

Just like a regular credit card, you can swipe it or dip it, and the device will tell you if a skimmer is being used.

“The problems that are most important to solve, I think are the ones that affect lots of people,” said Nolan Scaife, a doctoral research student. “The ones that are easy to get motivation behind are the ones that affect me. It’s important to me to work on things that have impact that affect average people.”

Their invention has caught the attention of law enforcement. Right now, both NYPD and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office are experimenting with the Skim Reaper.

Their hope is to one day make it as small as a credit card so that anyone can buy one and keep it in their wallet.

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