There are so many ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) thefts, scams and clones daily reported by various media across the globe. Be it snatching cash from the victim, cloning of your debit or credit cards used in ATM or taking way the ATM machine itself are common types of thefts occurring at various cities. It is not only Card Skimming but also ATM Jackpotting which is on the rise.
Few years back American Debit card relied on magnetic strips to store payment information. Scammers could simply buy a fake card reader for a few dollars on the dark web, attach it over the real card reader, and skim the card and PIN numbers of anyone who swiped. The rest of the world relies on the chip-and-PIN system of credit card verification—officially called EMV after the three companies that developed it: Europay, Mastercard, and Visa—which makes the cards more difficult to duplicate.
According to Bloomberg ATM jackpotting is but both riskier and more complicated than card-skimming. Here scammers have to hack into the computer that governs the cash dispenser, which usually involves physically breaking into the machine itself; once they’re in, they install malware that tells the ATM to release all of its cash, just like a jackpot at a slot machine. These obstacles mean the process takes quite a bit longer than installing a card skimmer, which means more time in front of the ATM’s security cameras and jackpotters triggering an alarm in the bank’s control center at every step. But as chip-and-PIN becomes the standard in the U.S., would-be ATM thieves are running out of other options.
According to Matthew O’Neill, a special agent at the Secret Service. “It’s much more difficult to steal data from the chip,” which encrypts the user’s payment information, making duplication almost impossible. By January of this year, such ATM Jackpotting group had managed to steal about $4 million in 125 attacks in ATMs
Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned banks in the U.S. of an impending cybercrime, a heist called an “ATM cash-out,” in which thieves seek to swipe millions of dollars by using cloned ATM cards for fraudulent withdrawals.
Here are the ways to protect yourself at the ATM when taking out cash this vacation:
- Choose ATM machines to take out cash at those public places where there are lot of people or much traffic as crimes mostly happen in remote or isolated areas. ATMs inside a grocery or convenience store are less likely to fall victim to skimmers than a sidewalk ATM. Also bank ATMs, both inside and outside, tend to be more secure because all their cameras make it hard for the criminals to set up the theft.
- When you stand at the machine to take out cash carefully observe the machine such as the card reader, keyboard, the top of the ATM, and around the screen for signs of alterations. If one part of the plastic face is a different shade, graphics are misaligned, or if the keyboard feels too thick, don’t use that ATM. Wiggle the card reader and it should be firmly attached without peeling glue around it.
- Always cover the keypad as you type in your PIN. Even if an ATM skimmer scanned the electronic information from your card, the criminals can’t use it if their camera doesn’t catch your access code.
- Whenever possible, use the EMV chip reader instead of swiping the magnetic strip. A chip reader device authorizes the card internally and never transmits your information externally.
- Use ATM in Daylight. ATMs in dimly lighted spots or used late at night could be more susceptible to fraud, while ATMs under video surveillance can be safer. Stay away from ATMs at retail stores or restaurants, Recently, skimming devices were found on ATMs in a popular grocery store in central Florida. Airports, convenience stores or kiosks are equally vulnerable to ATM thieves.
- Make less trips to ATMs. Often visiting ATM pose more risk to theft of cash. Criminals easily target those who are frequent visitors to ATM machines as they are monitored daily and come into their eyes often.
- Know your bank balance often. It is not that you have to go to ATM machine to check balance but do so with netbanking or phone banking and know the balance of your cash. Given the two-day window for reporting fraud, it pays to check your account frequently. If you don’t report fraud within 60 days, you have unlimited liability. “Sign up for alerts and notice unusual withdrawals. With credit cards there are more protections in place, and you can dispute charges. “You have at least a billing cycle.
- Don’t go to ATM alone. Either take someone with you or only use an ATM when others are around.
- Have your access card and any other documents you need ready when you approach an ATM. While you are fumbling with a wallet or purse, you are easy game for a thief.
- If someone else is using the ATM when you arrive, avoid standing right behind them. Give them enough space to conduct their transaction in privacy.
- Even while using the ATM, stay alert to your surroundings. Look up and around every few seconds while transacting your business.
- Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not enter your PIN if anyone else can see the screen. Change your PIN often and put a strong password.
- When your transaction is finished, be sure you have your card and your receipt, then leave immediately. Avoid counting or otherwise displaying large amounts of cash.
- As you leave, keep a look out. Be alert for anything or anyone who appears suspicious. If you think you are being followed, go to an area with a lot of people and call the police.
- Always close the door when you are in the ATM machine cabin. If the automated teller machine facility is equipped with a door, then surely close it!
- Never let anyone use your card or access code. Law enforcement officers or financial officials will never ask for these items. Be suspicious if anyone does ask for these items.
- Get familiar with the ATMs you use as where the envelope/brochure holders are located. Skimming device cameras are typically mounted on these objects.
- Stick with ATMs located at banks. It may be better to use an ATM at a bank location rather than a stand-alone ATM. The bank machines are more closely monitored, and less likely to have a skimming device go undetected.
- Watch out for mirrors. Look for a mirror that seems out of place. Mirrors are required by law to be installed at ATMs so you can spot someone looking over your shoulder. But an extra mirror could be an attempt to steal your pin number, usually by a thief who’s standing close by.
- If something seems strange or suspicious at an ATM location, report it to the bank staff or the bank’s security department.
- Do not remove any suspected skimming device.
- When you use your mastercard at AMT be sure the ATM displays at least one of brand marks: Mastercard®, Maestro® or Cirrus®.
- If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. If anyone follows you after making a transaction, go to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police.
- When using a drive-up ATM, make sure all passenger car doors are locked and windows are up.
With these valuable tips you can be on safety side and secure your cash and bank balance to some extent. The right advise is to use less ATM cards and do more of physical transaction wherever possible.