How To Protect Yourself From ATM Skimmer Scams And Prevent Your Card Data From Being Stolen

I didn’t realize it was so easy to steal my debit card information until I read up on skimmers. Skimming devices are a simple way for criminals to secretly steal your credit card and debit card information without needing your actual card. These crimeware devices are becoming more popular with crooks as the technology becomes cheaper and easier to get. The devices are attached to bank ATM machines and Point-Of-Sale checkouts (like gas pumps) and record and steal your card data and PIN codes.

Just this past week, a Florida resident found a skimmer on an ATM at his bank. Thinking the card slot looked a bit off, he gave it a yank and off came the skimming device.

skimmer device

Skimmer device pulled off ATM. Photo credit: Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

Not all the devices are easily noticed. Some are cleverly disguised to look like the real card acceptance slot. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Your first line of defense is to know what your local ATM machine should look like.

– Be familiar with the machine you use.
– Take an overall look at the machine.
– Be observant of any changes to the machine.
– Watch out for damaged or loose parts.

If you suspect an ATM looks slightly off, give the equipment a tug before using a machine.

how a skimmer works

Photo credit: Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office

Another thing many people don’t realize is that with less-sophisticated skimmer scams, there is a hidden camera involved. The camera is installed somewhere around the ATM and records the PIN codes cardholders are entering.

I was shocked when I saw this video of some crooks installing a skimming device with a camera. The cardholders that prevented their data from being stolen were the ones who covered the PIN pad. So another important tip is to cover the PIN pad with your hand when entering your code. This will thwart many of these crimeware devices!

Not all skimmers are foiled by this cover-the-hand technique because some skimmer scams use bluetooth technology and PIN pad overlays instead of hidden cameras. But it’s still a good precaution to take.

I plan to take these safety tips to heart next time I’m at an ATM! Share these useful tips with your friends and family!

Want to know how thieves are using iPhones to steal your ATM and security PIN codes? Watch this video to find out how they do it and how to protect yourself.


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