written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 4/17/2011
Card skimming is the stealing of ATM card information used in illegitimate and unauthorized transactions. The problem has affected banks and ATM card users because they failed to spot the ATM skimming device in an automated teller machine (ATM).
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What Is ATM Skimming?
You must have seen reports in the local television news or have read incidents on the Internet about ATM skimming, a theft of credit and debit or ATM cards information by criminals. A skimming device is added in the real card reader to record or send the credit or ATM card number, name and validity date of an ATM card. A spy camera is often attached near the ATM machine to capture the PIN code.
Criminals will use the captured ATM card information to access the card member’s account to withdraw the money that they don’t own or make fraudulent transactions. Some organized criminals will delay stealing your money or using your account. They can monitor your account anytime they want and then make the unauthorized transaction later on.
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How to Avoid Being Victimized
To prevent becoming a victim of ATM skimming, you should be familiar with ATM skimming devices. Spend some time by looking at the below screenshots to learn how the criminals hack or modify an ATM card-reading device.
You also need to avoid using an ATM machine from areas that are not secured or guarded. We often find ATM machines in hotel and airport lobbies, convenient stores and gas stations, but how can you be sure that the ATM machines are secure to use? It is better to insert an ATM card in ATM machine that is secured by a bank with security cameras or security guards.
People should also pay attention to the ATM machine itself. Check everything around the ATM machine, not only the card reader or keypad. Make sure that the color of the ATM machine is not different from the card reader. If there is any rack near the ATM machine or any brochures that have been pasted near the machine, make sure there’s no spy camera among them. Pay attention to the machine by looking for any cracked or bent surface.
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Additional Steps to Secure Your ATM Cards
Like an online password that should be maintained, you also need to regularly change the PIN code of your ATM, credit or debit cards. Changing the PIN code can help prevent ATM skimming because the PIN code that was captured by the criminals will no longer work. Most card issuers provide an option to change the PIN code using an ATM machine. Go to the nearby local bank station to change the PIN code instead of using the ATM machines in the gas stations.
Register your mobile phone to your bank account so you can take advantage of transaction authorization codes that the card issuers have added as a security measure. By using an authorization code for your cards or bank account, you will be notified via mobile phone whenever there’s an attempt to use your ATM account, credit or debit cards. A short text message (SMS) will be sent to your mobile phone that includes a transaction code that is required before anyone can access your online account. Just make sure that your mobile phone is not infected with Trojans or malware that criminals may use as well in retrieving the messages you receive from financial institutions.
Last but not least, review the transactions that were posted by your bank and immediately report any unauthorized transaction. Also review or request your credit history so you are aware that the record is up-to-date. Some people have reported that a credit card account was issued to them even though they did not request for one.
Image credits: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2010/01/would-you-have-spotted-the-fraud/, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Credit-cards.jpg by Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa (sxc.hu) [Public domain, GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons and http://twitter.com/mikkohypponen/status/1725581579