3 Important Tips to Minimize ATM ‘Skimming’ Fraud

A JP Morgan Chase ATM that supports Apple Pay

By Anna Breuer on 29 July 2019
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ATM skimming – which involves the theft of debit or credit card numbers when thieves put a card-reading device on an automated teller machine or gas pump – is on the rise but there are multiple steps travelers can take to virtually ensure they are not victimized.

Criminals use so-called skimmers in tandem with hidden cameras that record personal identification numbers, or PINs, that are entered on the keypad. They then either make cards using the information obtained or sell the numbers on the dark web.

Travelers can recognize skimmers at an ATM by examining the slot into which the bank card would be inserted.  If the outward plastic wobbles or appears glued on, there’s a strong possibility that it’s part of a skimming device.  It’s harder to detect skimmers at filling stations, however, because criminals have begun to install those inside the pump housing.

Skimming can happen to almost anyone.

FBT Culture Editor Blaise Buckley, while he was in the United States, found out that his Citibank bank card was skimmed at a 7-11 store in New York City when he saw that a withdrawal had been made at a United Bank of India branch in India.

Here are three tips that will reduce if not eliminate the risk for travelers.

1.)       Using a contactless payment method such as Apple Pay at an ATM or fuel pump completely eliminates the risk of skimming. Apple Pay uses Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology for transactions using an iPhone or Apple Watch. The bank card number is never transmitted but a skimmer couldn’t capture the number even if it were.  JP Morgan Chase supports Apple Pay at all of its ATMs in the United States.

2.)       If you must use an ATM card, cover the keypad with your free hand when entering your PIN.  This prevents so-called “shoulder surfing” whereby either someone would observe your PIN or it would be captured by a surreptitiously placed camera.

3.)       Avoid automated teller machines in non-bank locations such as convenience stores because criminals are less likely to attempt to attach a skimmer to a bank’s ATM given the extent of direct video surveillance virtually all banks use.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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