ATM Safety: What You Need to Know

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can give you easy, fast access to the money in your bank account. When you insert your card into the machine, it reads the information on the card’s magnetic strip. It then asks you for your pin number and, voila! You have the ability to withdraw money from your checking or savings account. According to statistics published in 2012 by Statistic Brain, there are 2.2 million ATM machines in service, with a new ATM machine being installed every 5 or so minutes. It’s important to note that most of these machines charge a fee for their service, but with modern-day thieves focusing on ATM technology in order to steal your cash, a fee might be the least of your worries.

What Security Measures Are In Place?

Many ATMs are monitored by surveillance cameras to prevent identity thieves from tampering with machines and also to discourage muggers from targeting people who are withdrawing cash. ATM customers are cautioned not to write their pin number down where passers-by can see it and to take precautions against allowing others to see the number that they punch into the keypad.

Unfortunately, there are ways that scammers target ATM machines that render these security measures useless.

ATM Skimming:

Incidents of ATM skimming are on the rise. Skimming occurs when identity thieves modify ATM machines. They insert a phony card reader over the legitimate card reader. This will read the magnetic strip. The information that it reads off of a debit card is either stored in the device or transmitted via wireless to another location. This is combined with either a spy cam or a device fitted over the keypad to read the users’ pin numbers. With these two bits of information, thieves will have easy access to a user’s checking account. They will either remove funds from the account, or sell the information online. The highest bidder will receive your sensitive information.

To prevent this from happening to you, it’s advised that you use only ATM machines located inside a bank, where it is less likely that scammers will have tampered with a machine unnoticed. Also, look out for keypads and card readers that look slightly off. They may be protruding oddly from the machine or a slightly different color than the rest of the ATM.

Sketchy ATM Purchases:

Did you know that used ATMs can be sold on eBay and Craigslist? If the machines are not properly wiped of data, the purchaser may be able to access users’ information electronically. Again, users are encouraged to stick to using only ATMs located at banks, rather than those at retail stores or in out-of-the-way spots, which may later be discarded or sold without being properly wiped of data.

Users should also monitor their checking account transactions closely. Some identity thieves may “test” a user account by making small transactions, sometimes for amounts less than a dollar. They assume that most users won’t notice small transactions like these.

Bank account holders can also be advised to withdraw money directly from a bank teller rather than an ATM to eliminate the risk of ATM-related identity theft and also to avoid ATM fees.

Sources:

http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/smartcompany/Banks-clients-grapple-with-card-skimmers/-/1226/1658812/-/dq6ok3z/-/index.html

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