Don’t Get Skimmed At The ATM

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

What is Skimming?

Skimming is a method used by criminals to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of an ATM or credit card. These devices are attached over the top of the card reader at an ATM, gas pump, checkout counter. The thief uses your stolen card number to create a clone of your card or to just break in to your account to steal money. Often, the criminal will place a hidden camera close by to try to see the PIN number you enter, as well. A fake PIN pad can also be installed over the keyboard to directly capture your PIN number.

How can you avoid being a skimming victim?

When you approach an ATM, check for some obvious signs of tampering at the top of the ATM, near the speakers, the side of the screen, the card reader itself, and the keyboard. If something looks different, such as a different color or material, graphics that aren’t aligned correctly, or anything else that doesn’t look right, don’t use that ATM. The same is true for credit card readers at the checkout line. If the keyboard doesn’t feel right—too thick, perhaps—then there may be a PIN-snatching overlay, so don’t use it.

ATMs are solidly constructed and generally don’t have any jiggling or loose parts, so wiggle everything to see if it’s loose. Pull at protruding parts like the card reader. See if the keyboard is securely attached and just one piece. Wiggling the card as you enter it in the slot won’t interfere with your transaction but will foil the skimmer.

Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN. ATMs located in busy locations are less likely to be tampered with, so use those when you can. ATMs inside banks, grocery stores or restaurants are generally safer. But no ATM or card reader is 100% safe, so stop and look for anything suspicious every time you use one. Whenever possible, don’t use your card’s magstripe to perform the transaction – an EMV chip is a much safer.

If the credit card terminal accepts NFC transactions, consider using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. These services tokenize your credit card information, so your personal information is never exposed. If you suspect your card data has been stolen, report it to your bank or card issuer immediately so you will not be held liable for any lost funds. Try to use a credit card instead of a debit card whenever possible since the transactions can be halted before payment is made.

Just remember: If something doesn’t feel right about an ATM or a credit card reader, just don’t use it. And whenever you can, use the chip instead of the strip on your card.

Source: PC Magazine