ATM Credit Card Skimming Epidemic Upon Us

atmAccording to a recent report in US News and World Report, ATM fraud is currently an issue, specifically ATM skimming. The report states that the practice is on the rise, leaping approximately 545% between 2014 and 2015. The data was recently issued by the analytics software firm FICO. While the amount of money that gets stolen via this route has not been pinpointed, industry insiders estimate that as much as $2 billion per year is lost as the result of ATM skimming.

Definitively, ATM skimming is a practice where debit card information, including PIN numbers, is stolen by electronic reading devices. The devices are secretly attached to ATMs. Security professionals recommend the following solutions to protect yourself from the hacker thieves.

Don’t Use a Public ATM. Security specialists advise ATM users to only use ATMs inside a bank. Don’t patronize machines that are located in gas stations, convenience stores, malls, bars or on city streets. The aforementioned machines, according to identity theft consultants, are easier to access for thieves.

For example, a thief might rig a machine on an icy cold night when no one is out and retrieve the data when more people are out and about. That is why it is best to use an ATM machine that is inside the vestibule of a bank. These locations are well-lit and are surveilled by video, which increases the risk of getting caught for a would-be skimmer. Major banks also practice security initiatives that safeguard the ATMs from fraud. You probably are better off using an ATM inside a bank anyway as the other ATMs can charge excessive fees.

Check the Machine. If you do use an ATM machine, check it out thoroughly. For example, is the slot a bit askew or not solidly attached? Try tugging it if you can. Do parts of the keypad look newer than other parts of the machine? Are key parts different colors? If you find any of these discrepancies, it might be best to use another machine.

Be Cautious When Using an ATM. When you do use an ATM, security experts suggest covering the PIN pad with your hand while you enter the PIN number. While your magnetic strip data may still be compromised at least thieves cannot access the PIN.