ATM Skimmers – How to Protect Yourself
ATMs are vulnerable to a scam called skimming. ATM "skimming" occurs when a fraudster installs an electronic device that reads information from a card's magnetic strip when it is inserted into the tampered ATM. Skimming is an illegal activity that involves the installation of a device, usually undetectable by ATM users, that secretly records account data when the user inserts an ATM card into the machine. Criminals can then encode the stolen data onto a blank card and use it to loot the member's account.
A concealed camera is typically used in conjunction with the skimming device to record members typing their PIN into the ATM keypad. Cameras are usually concealed somewhere on the front of the ATM - near the speaker, near the overhead lighting or on the sides of a recessed ATM. Look for pinholes in molding that point towards the pin pad.
What to look for:
Stay Protected – Helpful Tips
Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue. Even if you can't see any visual differences, push or wiggle everything. ATMs are solidly constructed and generally don't have any jiggling or loose parts. If anything moves or comes away, it may be a skimming device.
If possible, limit the number of ATMs you use. Using the same machine consistently gives you a better chance of recognizing abnormalities caused by skimming devices.
When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
If possible, use an ATM at an inside location. There is generally less access for criminals to install skimmers on inside units.
Trust your Instincts. If in doubt, use another pump or ATM somewhere else. If you get a sense that something looks off about the ATM you are about to use, you might be better off using one that you feel more comfortable with.
Avoid using your PIN Number at the gas pump. When you pay at the pump with your debit/credit card, you have the option to use it as a credit or a debit card. It's best to choose the credit option to avoid entering your PIN in case there is a hidden Card Skimmer camera. When you use it as a credit card you usually enter your billing ZIP code as verification which is safer than putting in your PIN.
Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas. These units are more likely to be a target of skimmers. If your card isn't returned after the transaction or after hitting cancel, contact the financial institution that issued the card immediately.
Keep an eye on your accounts. If you suspect that you might have had your card skimmed. Keep an eye on your account balance and report any suspicious activity immediately.