I learned about ATM skimming the hard way when my good friend got scammed by having her ATM card skimmed at a local gas station. She lost hundreds of dollars from her account and had to deal with the hassle of reporting the fraud and getting a new card. As a result, I became vigilant and tried to avoid that particular gas station. But that’s not a realistic solution because ATM skimming can happen anywhere. You just need to learn the signs and know how to avoid it.
What is ATM Skimming?
ATM skimming is a type of fraud where criminals attach a device to an ATM that can capture the card information and PIN. The criminals can then use the stolen data to clone the cards and withdraw money from the victims’ accounts. ATM skimming is a serious threat that can cause financial losses and identity theft for consumers. However, many people are unaware of this risk and do not take necessary precautions to protect their ATM cards and PINs.
ATM Skimming: How Criminals Steal Your ATM Card Information
Below are ways that the criminals can get your card information.
Fake Card Slot or Fake Card Reader to Steal ATM Card Data
Criminals install fake card slots or fake card readers over the original card slot to scan the magnetic stripe of your card.
Fake Keypad to Steal Your PIN
Criminals install a fake keypad or a fake keypad overlap over the original keypad to record your keystrokes when you enter your PIN.
Hidden Camera to Steal Your PIN
Criminals install a hidden camera or a pinhole camera near the ATM that can capture your PIN as you enter it on the keypad.
Wireless Transmitter to Steal ATM Card Data
Criminals install a wireless transmitter or a memory chip inside the skimming device to store or send the captured data to the criminals.
How to Spot Fake ATM
Fake ATM can be hard to detect, but there are some signs that can alert you to a possible skimming device. Here are some tips to spot fake ATMs.
Inspect the ATM before Using It
Look for any signs of tampering, such as loose or mismatched parts, scratches, glue, tape, wires, or stickers. Pay special attention to the card slot, the keypad, and the screen.
Wiggle the card slot and the Keypad
If the card slot and/or keypad moves or feels loose, they may be fake attachments that can capture your card information and PIN. Do not use the ATM if you notice any movement or looseness.
Compare the ATM with other nearby machines
If the ATM looks different from the others, it may be a fake one. For example, the card slot may be protruding, the keypad may be thicker, or the screen may be smaller or brighter than usual.
Cover the keypad when entering your PIN
Some skimming devices may have a hidden camera or a fake keypad overlay that can record your PIN. To prevent this, use your hand or a piece of paper to cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
Check your bank statements regularly
If you notice any unauthorized transactions or withdrawals from your account, report them to your bank immediately. This may indicate that your card information has been compromised by a skimming device.
How to Avoid ATM Skimming
ATM skimming can be prevented by following some simple precautions.
Avoid Generic ATMs
Use ATMs that are affiliated with your bank or a trusted network. Avoid using ATMs that are unfamiliar, generic, or have no branding. These may be more likely to be fake or compromised by skimming devices.
Monitor Your Bank Accounts
Monitor your accounts and set up alerts. Check your accounts online or by phone regularly and look for any suspicious activity. Set up alerts with your bank or card issuer that can notify you of any transactions or withdrawals from your account. If you notice any fraud, report it to your bank or card issuer as soon as possible.
Report Fake ATMs Immediately
Report any suspicious or fake ATM to the bank or the authorities. If you encounter any ATM that looks or feels fake, do not use it and report it to the bank or the authorities. This can help prevent other users from falling victim to ATM skimming.
Use ATMs in Well-Lit and Secure Locations
Use ATMs that are located in well-lit and secure areas, such as inside a bank branch, a mall, or a gas station. Avoid using ATMs that are isolated, dark, or in unfamiliar locations.
ATM skimming is a serious problem that can affect anyone who uses an ATM. By following these tips, you can spot fake ATM and avoid ATM skimming. Stay alert and protect your card information and PIN from criminals.