You’d think, wouldn’t you, that you could transact business at an ATM without worrying about fraud. But the crooks are always on the alert, according to an article in the June AARP Bulletin.
Thieves Focusing On ATMs
In fact, automated teller machines have become a focus for some of those determined to benefit at your cost. The introduction of chip-enabled credit and debit cards has made it tougher for thieves to steal your information at the cash register, so they have turned more attention to the ATMs, experts warn.
Increase In Compromised ATMS
FICO Card Alert Service keeps tabs on three in five debit cards used in the U.S. and they have reported a 500-plus percent increase in the number of ATMs compromised by thieves since 2014. The proliferation of inexpensive skimming technology has been used by fraudsters to fuel the increase.
On average, fraudsters take $650 from each person they successfully skim, according to the ATM Industry Association. They do it by illegally installing card-reading devices at ATMs, gas pumps and other debit-processing machines located in public places. When you insert your card, their device “skims” the pertinent data from the magnetic strip. A nearby hidden camera records your PIN number. The information is then used to make duplicate cards or sold on the black market.
Skimming Technology Constantly Upgraded
The skimming technology is constantly being upgraded, giving the crooks the advantage, the article reports. Banks can’t react fast enough to stay ahead of such tricks as the “shimmers” that crooks implant inside ATM slots to read your card, or the Bluetooth processes they use to transmit your stolen data to other bad guys.
What to do?
- Go inside the bank. They aren’t perfectly immune to fraud, but better than the ATM and are usually protected by cameras. The most susceptible ATMS are at convenience stores and other non-bank locations.
- Inspect ATM before using it. Be wary of those with card slots that are different colors than the rest of the machine. If there is unusual-looking equipment on the slot, keypad or overhead, avoid using it. If it is difficult to insert your card, stop the transaction. Newer ATMs have a flashing or steady light at the card slot. If it is obscured, don’t use it.
- Put your hand over the keypad when punching PIN numbers.
- Keep close tabs on cards. Most banks offer real-time alerts via text message or email if there are suspicious transactions.
- Create a separate account, smaller than normal and use it only for debit card transactions. That will cut your losses if you are illegally skimmed.
- Lower the limit on daily ATM withdrawals to a reasonable amount, say $100 per day so a crook cannot make multiple withdrawals within a short time.