Protecting yourself against ATM skimmers

As there has been an increase in Point of Sale (POS) crime recently, from ATMs to the large breach in Target shopper’s credit/debit card information. Though these kinds of attacks have been around for a while, few have been able to be as widespread and successful as what we have seen in the past few months. Though it is very difficult to be completely safe from a large scale breach like Target’s, there are several steps we can use to help protect us when we swipe our card.

One attack that is gaining in popularity is the use of ATM Skimmers. ATM Skimmers are devices that criminals place over or in ATM machines to steal your card information, including your pin number. While the tricks used by these thieves can be complicated, there are a handful of simple methods to properly protect your financial information:

  • Choose your ATMs wisely. Look for ones that are within bank perimeters, well lit and/or on busy streets. If possible, try to always use the same ATM, since it will be easier to identify abnormalities.
  • Hide your pin!Even though you may be alone, that doesn't mean you are not being watched. Modern day skimmers now also hide little cameras to register you inputting your PIN. If you take the simple precaution of covering your hand while inputting your information, you'll help prevent the criminal from getting this information.
  • Look for abnormalities. Most skimmers have to attach their skimming machine over the real ATM using simple adhesives since they often have to quickly remove the device. Check the machine to see if the input device wobbles or seems unattached. If it is, use another machine. Also look for out-of-place cameras and keypad overlays that can also capture your pin number.
  • Report the abnormalities.  If you card is not returned after the transaction or after hitting "cancel," immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.
  • Check your accounts regularly.  To decrease the chances of cyber criminals running away with all your money, check your accounts regularly and immediately follow up on any suspicious activities.