When people think about ATMs and crime, they usually are looking at a scenario where a criminal would follow you into the bank and demand you give him the money via a threat of some kind. Although this type of robbery does occur, there are more sophisticated methods that criminals use whereby you could have your entire savings withdrawn, yet you would never be aware of it at the time you were in the bank.
In 2008, more than $1 billion was stolen in ATM related crimes
One of the most popular of these is the use of a skimmer. A sophisticated electronic device that reads your bank card. How does it do this? Hard to believe, but these devices are designed to look just like the port where you slip your card in and are made to be placed right over the real one. So when you put your bank card into the slot that has a skimmer over it, the skimmer will read your card information, but you will not know, as you are also putting your card through the legitimate slot that the bank installed and your information appears on the screen, same as it always would.
Not aware that criminal activity is occurring, you go on to enter your private passcode on the keypad. Criminals have an answer to that too. They place a tiny camera on the side or top of the ATM console that actually records your keypad strokes, subsequently allowing the thieves to acquire your pin code.
How do you stop criminals with skimmers at ATMs?
- Before you put your card through the slot. Put your hands on it and see if it seems like anything is loose or appears that something is over it. If the slot feels solid and doesn’t look like it is tampered with, it is most likely OK.
- When you are about to enter your PIN code, place your hands or a paper over your hands so that nothing can see the code you are entering on the keypad.
- When you leave the bank, check your account to make sure that there are no questionable withdrawals or transactions on your account.
By following these guidelines, you are sure to be safe from becoming a victim of skimming fraud.