You’re not even safe when you’re on holiday! The number of card machines that were tampered with in the US last year rose by a massive 546%!
We’re not helpless in the face of this fraud. There are ways of spotting if an ATM has been tampered with, you just need to know what to look for.
1. Check the whole ATM for a false front
It may seem incredibly audacious to replace the whole front of an ATM, but it’s the easiest way to fool people into using them. They can be difficult to detect, but have a good look and you might be able to spot something unusual. Maybe you use it regularly, but overnight it’s changed appearance. Maybe the front looks too big or too small.
2. Check the card slot
This is the most common type of high-tech card fraud. Con artists will attach a ‘skimmer’ to the card slot. This device scans your card and steals your details. You can detect these by checking for misaligned or misprinted stickers, or if the card insert slot seems unusually bulky.
3. Check that the slot isn’t blocked or loose
The ATM will still ask you for your pin, but because it can’t read the card, it will lead you to believe your card has been swallowed. Once you leave the machine, the perpetrator can eject your card and clear out your bank account.
4. Check the pin pad. If it feels loose, thick, or sponge-like, then it may be a fake.
This is one of the oldest methods for stealing your pin. Criminals place a ‘pin-pad overlay’ on the pin-pad. When you enter your pin, it captures it, and in some high tech cases, sends the information via WIFI straight to the gang. All they need to do now is get a hold of your card.
5. Do not be distracted.
This is the original method, and one that still works. A fraudster will stand behind you and watch you enter your pin. Once you’re finished at the ATM, they’ll distract you and take your card. Some will accomplish this by mugging the card owner, whilst others will deploy a cash or card trap on the machine, and the pretend to be attempting to help you, whilst an accomplice will steal your card.
Before using any card machines, check your environment. Is anyone loitering nearby? If there’s a queue, is the person behind you standing too close? Many of these criminals will work as a team, so be aware of groups.
Fico’s fraud specialist Brian Kinch said “When taking money out of an ATM, it’s important to always stand close to the machine and shield your PIN carefully. Once you have completed the transaction, put your money and card away before leaving the machine.”
“If you spot anything unusual about the machine, or there are signs of tampering, make sure you leave it well alone and report it to the police or your bank immediately so they can investigate.”