The next time you use an ATM, look before you swipe. There’s a good chance the machine was tampered with, say an increasing number of experts.
Savvy crooks are once-again trying to attach skimmers—phony card scanners that fit over the ATM’s real card swipe—in hopes of reading your debit or credit card and send its data to the criminal. A cleverly concealed spy camera, records your secret PIN code. Increased awareness of ATM skimming scams have banks doubling their efforts to protect their customers, reports ABC News.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you use an ATM:
1. Beware of your own bank’s ATMs. Earlier this month, three skimmers were found in one week, all at ATMs located within Chase bank lobbies or vestibules. Criminals know that well-known bank machines are trusted and highly trafficked. But, they're not closely monitored—especially during off hours, when thieves can place their very cleverly-crafted and –concealed contraptions.
2. Know what to look for. Scam artists are adroit at camouflaging their devices to look legitimate. (See how convincing these doctored ATMs look by checking our sister blog, The Consumerist.) If you see an extra mirror or shoddy looking card-reader, give them a tug. They might pop right off. If you see something suspicious, don't use the machine and alert the bank branch's manager. If it's after hours, call your bank and alert them to the problem. Many ATMs will also have a local or toll-free number (printed on the machine itself) to call if you're having problems or issues with a particular machine.
3. Make safe ATM use a regular practice. Cover your hand when entering your PIN. Take your receipt (if you opt to have one printed) and always make sure your session has ended before you walk away from the machine.
"Skimming" and other forms of ATM fraud are a growing, worldwide concern. Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has released a great visual guide to identifying skimmers at ATMs. Download the PDF here. Also check out the embedded video, above, from the BBC show The Real Hustle.
Do you have other ATM safety tips and practices? Or an experience with a compromised ATM? Share it here. —Nick K. Mandle