Protect your debit card from ATM skimmingEven if you’re choosy about which ATMs you use, you can still become a victim of identity thieves who place seamless devices on machines to steal debit card information.
Even if you’re choosy about which ATMs you use, you can still become a victim of identity thieves who place seamless devices on machines to steal debit card information.
According to Bankrate.com, ATM skimmers are close to reaping $1 billion annually from unsuspecting consumers. Javelin Strategy and Research estimates that one in five people have become victims.
Identity thieves tamper with ATMs in a number of ways to steal debit card numbers and PINs. It only takes a few seconds to install cameras over the keypad or a device over the card reader. ATMs aren’t the only hot spots; credit card swipers at gas pumps and retailers can be tampered with as well.
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) recommends that consumers take the following steps to protect themselves from becoming the next victim.
Protect your PIN. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits. False keypads placed over the real keypad are also a way scammers get PIN numbers so if the keypad looks different, find a different ATM machine.
Give it a wiggle. Skimming devices are often false panels attached to the ATM – such as where you put your card into the machine. If parts of the ATM look damaged or different, give them a wiggle. Also look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage. Walk away and use another ATM if it doesn’t feel right.
Be picky. Avoid using ATMs in poorly lighted or low-traffic areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over stand-alone ATMs in public places. Not only do identity thieves attach devices to legitimate ATMs to steal numbers, they will also place their own phony ATMs in public places.
Keep an eye on your statements. The most vigilant person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, and it’s important to keep a close eye on your accounts, particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits, so you can quickly report suspicious activity.
Report fraud immediately. Report fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit cards vary but depend largely on when you report the fraudulent activity. If you wait too long, your bank account could be cleaned out and your bank might not reimburse you.
For more advice on fighting identity thieves and preventing fraud, visit the BBB online at www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-scams/.