I cannot use an ATM these days without wondering if I am getting ripped off by a stealthy skimming device that has been placed inside the machine’s card slot. One reason for my concern is that for years now I have been reading with great interest a series of articles on the subject by security expert Brian Krebs, who posted another one just yesterday.
This piece includes a couple of videos showing exactly how scammers insert and remove the skimmers from an ATM, as well as practical advice you can use to thwart those efforts:
- Cover the PIN pad while you enter your PIN.
- Keep your wits about you when you’re at the ATM, and avoid dodgy-looking and standalone cash machines in low-lit areas, if possible.
- Stick to ATMs that are physically installed in a bank. Stand-alone ATMs are usually easier for thieves to hack into.
- Be especially vigilant when withdrawing cash on the weekends; thieves tend to install skimming devices on a weekend — when they know the bank won’t be open again for more than 24 hours.
- Keep a close eye on your bank statements, and dispute any unauthorized charges or withdrawals immediately.
It pains me to admit that I am among those who have yet to acquire the habit of covering the PIN pad with my otherwise unoccupied hand. Hopefully, writing this post will be the end of that dangerous habit.