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Minnesota Legislature

A felony for skimming tool

Published (5/13/2010)
By Mike Cook
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The criminal code is changing because of technology.

Effective Aug. 1, 2010, a new law will make it a felony for someone to possess a scanning device or reencoder used to acquire information from payment cards, a driver’s license or state-issued identification card with “the intent to commit a crime, aid, or abet any unlawful activity.”

Skimmers record information off the card’s magnetic strip. Supporters note that these devices can go unnoticed by a consumer because they are about the size of a Bic lighter. For example, someone in the food or hospitality industry could hide one in their hand and run the strip through the skimmer without your knowledge.

Another common device retrieves someone’s information at a cash machine. The skimmer looks like the outlet, albeit about one-quarter of an inch thicker. When a user inserts their card, the device and the ATM read the information.

Criminals will frequently make a new credit card with the acquired information.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) and Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul) sponsor the law, signed May 10 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

HF2470/ SF2493*/CH293

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