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Protect Yourself From ATM Skimmers

Skimming is a method that crooks use to obtain data from the magnetic stripe on the back of an ATM/debit or credit card to access all your hard-earned money. We have all heard about the threat of skimming devices at gas station terminals and self-checkout stations, but few may realize that crooks are able to place skimming devices on ATMs. This Tuesday Tips email will provide you with information to help you identify a skimming device at an ATM and protect your financial information.

How ATM Skimmers Work

Hidden Camera: When a skimmer is present at an ATM there is usually a concealed camera that is used in conjunction with the skimming device in order to capture your PIN numberATM Skimmers that you enter on the key pad. Many times these cameras are somewhere in front of the ATM; for example, above the screen in a phony ATM part or somewhere nearby, such as a light fixture. (See number 1 on the image).

Skimmer: The actual skimming device may look very similar to the original card reader in terms of color and texture. The skimmer on an infected ATM will fit right over the actual card reader. Original card readers are typically concave in shape, meaning they curve inward, while skimmers are more convex, meaning they curve outward. Make sure to examine the card reader before using any ATM. If you notice an odd shape, or wiggle the reader and it seems loose, do not use the ATM and notify the organization to which the ATM belongs. (See number 2 on the image).

Keypad Overlay: Recently crooks have been placing fake keyboard overlays onto ATM keypads in the place of concealed cameras. Instead of visually recording PIN numbers, the fake keypad overlay records users punching in their PINs and stores these pin numbers within. (See number 3 on the image).

How to ID An ATM Skimmer

  • Examine around the ATM for places where a crook could hide a tiny camera. If something looks suspicious, do not take your chances. Notify the company who owns the ATM immediately.
  • Examine the keypad closely to check for a fake overlay on top of it. For instance, does the keypad look thicker than usual?
  • Look over the ATM as a whole to check for parts that don’t match the ATM’s overall style or colors. If you notice something that looks out of pattern, notify someone immediately.
  • Try to jiggle the card reader. If it moves, you should notify the company that owns the ATM, and do not move forward with the transaction.
  • Cover your hand when you enter your PIN. This will prevent a camera from picking up your key strokes.
  • Trust your gut. If something feels off or wrong, use your best judgement and do not move forward with the transaction.

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