A thief stealing from unsuspecting ATM users is not new. However, it no longer means they hang out until the money is withdrawn and then rob the customers. The current trend is ATM Skimming. A crime ring in New York compromised over 26,000 transactions of 1,400 issuers in this manner. Losses were in the range of $3.5 million. Recently Wichita, Kansas’ police found seven card skimmers at various financial institutions in the city.
You may be asking—what is an ATM card skimmer? It is a device that is placed over the actual machine’s card reader, often using double-sided tape. In some cases, the machines are tampered with and noticeable damage can be found. The skimmer reads the information off of the magnetic stripe on the card. Complementing that, a camera may be found nearby aimed at the keypad capturing PINs.
How can you protect your information?
- The first rule is don’t use an ATM that is in a low traffic or low light area. It is typically considered more secure to use ATMs at banking locations as opposed to standalone machines. Not only for the safety of your money, but for physical safety as well. The thieves run a higher risk of being seen in these areas, so they tend to not use them as often.
- Identity thieves will often even construct their own machines in an attempt to steal data. To that point, use a machine with which you are already familiar whenever possible. It will be easier to detect anything different when you approach it. If it looks different from what you expect, and you are uncomfortable, use another one.
- Protect your PIN by placing your hand or a piece of paper over the keypad when entering your number. This will prevent any cameras that may be installed from seeing what you pushed.
- Since tape is often used to attach the skimming devices, if something looks odd, wiggle it to make sure it doesn’t come loose.
- Don’t necessarily believe the instructions on a sign that looks unusual. Financial institutions will not ask you to swipe your card on a separate reader before putting it into the ATM, for example. Yet scammers will try this and it often works.
- Make sure you check bank statements for fraudulent charges and report anything suspicious to your financial institution in a timely manner. This is general good practice, regardless of whether or not you feel you may have been scammed.
- If anything makes you feel uncomfortable about a particular ATM, don’t feel bad about walking away and finding another one. The machines feelings will not be hurt.
- If someone offers to “help” you use the ATM, immediately decline and leave.
- If the machine doesn’t give you money, or gives you an immediate message that the machine malfunctioned, call the financial institution and let them know.
Criminals are getting smarter about using skimmers and often it is nearly impossible to detect the device. However, take a few moments to look around before putting your card into the machine. If anything strikes you as odd, report it to the financial institution.
Thieves use the information gained from these devices to create duplicate cards. Then they use them to make purchases or withdraw cash. They can steal a lot of money in a very short period this way.
Fortunately, there hasn’t been a skimmer that transmits wirelessly found, yet. So the criminals have to return to the machine to retrieve the data. An investigation regarding the Wichita scams is ongoing, and the police have released photos of the alleged perpetrators, possibly as they returned to do just that.
ATM skimming has become so popular among criminals that a task force has been created to get all segments of the ATM industry as well as the U.S. Secret Service involved in skimming investigations. As a result, some of the technology of ATMs is improving to a level making it more difficult to tamper with them. However, because of our 24-hour desire to have access to our money, and the sheer number of ATMs required to meet this, it will be a while before skimming is a thing of the past. It is getting there. For now, don’t avoid the machines. Just be aware and report anything suspicious.
How DuGood Can Help
These days, it seems like everyone is after your card information. We want you to FEEL GOOD knowing your money is safe and secure. That’s why we offer ID Theft Protection for all our credit and debit card holders. For only a few bucks a month, you can protect all your financial accounts – not just those at DuGood.
And, if you’re interested in more articles like this one, be sure to check out our Security Center! You’ll find all sorts of helpful articles there to help you stay head of the scammers.
Blog contributed by Stickley on Security