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An image of someone putting a debit card into an ATM.

How to Protect Yourself From Skimmers

Though easy and convenient, ATMs have become a common place for criminals to steal your information through skimming devices, which can turn one simple errand into a nightmare. Despite how deceiving they may be, there are still ways to catch a skimmer.
But what are skimming devices?
Skimming devices are counterfeit parts that can be placed directly over card readers and be disguised as legitimate parts of an ATM. Most commonly found at ATMs and gas stations, skimmers allow thieves to retrieve data from your card’s magnetic stripe and collect card numbers or PINs that they can later use to make fraudulent purchases.

How can I protect myself?
Skimmers aren’t always easy to spot. They are designed to blend in and match the style of the card reader, so you might not know there is a skimming device until it’s too late. But there are still ways to identify a skimming device at an ATM or gas pump.

1. At first glance, check if anything seems off. Any visible damage, scratches, or sticky residue could be signs that the machine has been tampered with.

2. Check the alignment of the card reader. Skimmers are often placed over the card reader, so if it seems out of place or loose, it probably doesn’t belong there.

3. Make sure your card fits naturally into the card reader. If it seems more difficult to insert your card into the machine, this may indicate there is a skimming device on the card reader.

4. Does the keypad move around or are the buttons too hard to push? ATMs and card readers are designed to be secure. Anything that wiggles around or comes off never belonged on the card reader to begin with.

5. Look around the keypad for a hidden camera. Pinhole cameras are often placed to look down at the keypad and catch your PIN.

In addition to identifying skimming devices, there are other ways you can monitor your accounts and prevent suspicious activity. Using a digital banking platform allows you to regularly monitor your accounts from a computer or smart device. Many financials also offer features like transaction alerts, so you can be notified of any unusual or large purchases on your account and stay in control of your finances.

To avoid any fraudulent activity on your account and protect your identity, it’s also important to never share your account numbers, passwords, or any personal information with anyone. Don’t click links or send money unless you are 100% sure who is at the other end.
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We care and want you to feel in control of your financial well-being. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or see any suspicious activity on your account, report it to your financial institution immediately.
Always stay vigilant when using your credit or debit cards to make purchases. If something seems off about a card reader, don’t use it and report it to the bank and local law enforcement as soon as possible. By staying informed, monitoring your accounts, and watching for these tell-tale signs, we hope you can find peace of mind and better protect yourself from skimming and other fraudulent activity.
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