ATM skimming occurs when a criminal inserts a device onto the card reader of an ATM to collect the information from the card. This type of fraud has increased over the past several years, and it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Here are a few things you can do:
Do a quick scan
Before using any machine, take a look to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. If the card reader seems loose, crooked or damaged, if the graphics aren’t aligned, or if part of the machine is a different color, don’t use it. If there is another machine nearby (such as two ATMs next to each other) compare them to see if there are obvious differences. For example, if one machine has a flashing slot to insert your card and the other doesn’t, that may be an indication that there is something wrong.
Be wary of non-bank ATMs
FICO reports that 60% of skimming occurs at privately-owned ATMs. These are typically cash-dispensing machines and tend to be located in convenience stores, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, or check cashing establishments.
Check the keypad
If the numbers are hard to press or feel too thick, it might have a false keypad installed and you should move to the next machine.
Block your PIN
When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand in case a camera is recording your number.
Stay in public view
Always try to use machines that are in public view with security monitoring – these machines are less likely to be tampered with. For additional protection, use a machine inside the store or an ATM inside your bank.
Check your account regularly
Technology is advancing and so are skimming devices, so the best thing you can do is monitor your account. Rather than wait for your monthly statement, check your account regularly using online and mobile banking. This way, if anything were to happen, you can catch it immediately and report it to your bank.
Sign up for alerts
See what type of fraud alert system your financial institution has in place and take advantage of it.
Above all, trust your instincts. If you suspect foul play, or if you’re in doubt about the authenticity of a machine, use a different machine or payment method.