Theft at the ATM is among the top reported types of fraud that affects our economy each year. A recent FICO Report
states that the compromise of debit cards monitored at U.S. ATMs and merchants has increased by 39 percent. In addition, industry experts say that ATM theft cost consumers nearly two billion dollars each year.
Fraudsters are using technology to get craftier with how they perform their criminal acts, which means consumers need to broaden their awareness and stay informed about the security risks of using an ATM machine. Here are some things to consider when visiting an ATM:
Beware of Skimming and Shimming Devices
Skimming devices, better known as skimmers, are tiny gadgets designed to mimic the shape of ATM card readers to acquire user data. Some skimmers are so well designed that they are impossible to spot until signs of theft appear, like a sudden decline in the availability of funds. Fraudsters install their skimmers as extensions of ATM card readers to steal users’ personal information.
Debit card and credit cards come equipped with magnetic strips and EMV chip technology that help identify a card holder’s name, card number, PIN, and card verification value or CVV code, when a card is inserted in an ATM. Fraudsters use skimmers to read and steal the information embedded in debit and credit card magnetic strips to make unauthorized purchases or fraudulent duplicates, and to sell the data on the dark web. While cards with EMV chip technology are considerably more secure than cards with magnetic strips, they are still susceptible to ATM fraud.
Debit and credit cards with EMV chip technology generate a unique transaction code every time they are used, which makes them difficult to be replicated. However, fraudsters have been using a device called shimmer to get around the security system of EMV chip cards. A shimmer is a new and improved pick pocketing device that is paper-thin, card-sized, with an embedded microchip and flash storage. Fraudsters insert their shimmers at ATMs and gas pumps to steal data, which they use to make magnetic strip cards, that can then make transactions at other locations that are not equipped with EMV protection technology.
Credit Cards at the Gas Pump
According to the National Association for Convenience Stores
, more than 37 million Americans refuel their vehicles daily, and 78 percent of those vehicle owners pay for their fuel using a debit or credit card. The high usage of gas pumps makes them a desirable place for fraudsters to place skimmers.
Gas pump terminals have similar functionalities to that of ATMs, which means they can be affected by skimming devices as well. Skimmers can be placed either inside or outside of a pump terminal allowing fraudsters to obtain information when users insert their cards in the terminal. In some instances, fraudsters may go as far as replacing the original terminal on a gas pump with their own to facilitate their crimes.
It is always best to go inside the gas station and process a payment with a cashier instead of using the gas pump terminal. Also, never process a debit payment at a gas pump; proceed with a credit payment to avoid having to enter your PIN number.
Card Usage at Other Locations
In some situations, finding a nearby ATM machine to make quick cash transaction may be urgent, and it can be tempting to use the most convenient ATM machine that one may find. No matter how pressing the situation may be, it is always best to avoid ATMs in unsecure locations due to the potential risks that a user may encounter.
Though skimming fraud at restaurants and local businesses are not as commonly reported, there are still potential risks to be aware of when processing a payment in which the debit or credit card is taken away momentarily. The card may be inserted in an unauthorized device to steal the card owner’s personal information when dealing with a dishonest server or bartender.
Make sure that cash machines are fully operational and well maintained when using ATMs at less conventional areas such as convenience stores, shopping malls, and restaurant corners. Avoid using machines placed in dimly lit areas, and opt for machines that are placed in areas with high foot-traffic like financial institutions and grocery stores. Those ATMs are frequently monitored by security cameras.
Safety Tips for Protection against ATM Fraud
We are our Members’ Watchdog! We monitor card transactions to help members reduce the chance of being affected by skimming fraud. We recommend these additional tips to safely make a debit or credit card transaction:
Avoid ATMs that appear isolated or placed in dimly lit areas.
Check gas pump’s screen and make sure that the billing charge starts at zero; look for broken tapes or wires; and make sure that the keypad is intact.
Ensure that all functionalities (screen, keypad, card reader) are working properly when making a withdrawal at ATMs. If an issue is detected, stop and proceed to another ATM location.
Never enter PIN numbers and always opt for credit options when processing a card payment at a gas pump. If possible it is best to process your payment inside the station with an attendant.
Place your hand over the keypad to hide your PIN number.
Press on the ATM card reader to identify whether it has been tempered with. Signs of ATM modification include parts that feel loose or appear broken.
Contact SCCU immediately if your debit or credit card is lost or stolen.
Sign up for SCCU’s e-Statements, Mobile and Online Banking alerts, and make sure that we have on file your most up-to-date cell phone number, so that we can reach you more conveniently.
At SCCU we stand behind our promise to protect our members, which is why we are always looking for ways to improve our monitoring and early detection process.
Our Watchdog Promise is backed by Visa’s Zero Liability® policy, which means we won’t hold our members accountable for lost or stolen debit/credit cards, and fraudulent charges processed on their accounts without consent.
You can be part of the solution! Utilize the tips above to help SCCU fight fraud, and stay educated by regularly visiting the Fraud Center
Space Coast Credit Union