TIPS TO AVOID SKIMMING THEFT
Posted on: Apr. 01, 2017 in Money, Identity Theft

If you’re of a certain age, you remember a time when you had to actually go into a bank to take money out of your account, and then you had to carry cash around, too. For many, using a credit or debit card is all they’ve ever known. As more and more people use cards to access even the smallest of every day goods and services, thieves know that they are likely to find plenty of people whipping out the plastic on a daily basis.

While not new, card skimming is on the rise. Thieves can alter ATM and credit card machines with electronic devices that will read your card and record your PIN number so that they can steal the information and access your account. ATMs are often the target of these attempts, but any machine can be a target. Often the devices are installed over the true ATM or card machine and involve something covering the keypad or tiny cameras to capture the information you type. These sophisticated devices can easily fool someone, especially if you’re grabbing cash in a hurry or making a payment. They also have no effect on your transaction, so you’ll rarely know what’s happening at the time.

There are a few things you can do to safeguard your account information.

  • Use clearly visible ATMS. If the ATM is out of sight, it’s easy for someone to walk up and manually install a reader. But if it’s out in the open, it’s more likely their tampering would be noticed.
  • Bank ATMS are hotter targets on the weekend. Not only are more people taking out cash throughout the day, there are fewer, if any, bank employees around to spot a thief.
  • Look around for cameras. They could be mounted to the top of the ATM (who looks there, anyway?), in nearby brochure racks, and on or in anything surrounding the ATM.
  • Cover your hand. If you can, cover your hand as you enter your pin so a camera can’t pick it up. For keypad overlays, gently place your fingers on other keys as you type to confuse the device. If someone steals the card data to get your card number, they can still do some damage, though it’s often harder without the PIN.
  • Look at other machines. If there are several ATMS or card readers in the same place, make sure they all look the same before using any of them. If some flash where the card is inserted but one does not, assume that one is compromised. Colors on the machines may be different or the piece around the slot where you insert your card can look “off” or loose.

The best piece of advice is to be very aware of your surroundings and the machines at which you use your card. If anything seems off, use a different machine. Go with your gut – if you suspect something is wrong, don’t stick around. If you discover something wrong with the machine AFTER you’ve used it, keep an eye on the bank account and alert the machine owner if possible.

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