Over the past few years, Automated Teller Machines have become a regular part of our lives. People rely on these virtual cash dispensers without a second thought because the notion that something can go wrong never crosses their mind. Unfortunately, ATMs are the perfect vehicle for thieves to use as a means to steal money or identities from people. The first step in avoiding these schemes is being aware of them: check out useful tips to stay away from the most common ATM scams.
The most audacious ATM scam is installing machines on top of the actual ATM in order to steal information. Just to be sure, before entering your PIN or card, give the ATM a little wiggle and try to lift some of its compartments: if nothing moves, you’re good to go.
ATMs have a card reader that takes your card in while you carry out your money transaction, but some felons add a fake one on top of the real one to steal your card information. Try to shake the card reader before to make sure there’s only one there.
HEADPHONE SUCK IT
Most ATMs have a headphone socket so that the blind can follow instructions. If the socket is kind of sunken and crooked, run as fast as you can: this means the ATM has been compromised and you might be the next scam victim.
LIGHTS, HIDDEN CAMERA, ACTION
Criminals who are too impatient to go through the complex process of tapping an ATM will simply install a nearby camera to steal your account information. Check envelope holders and everything around the machine, and make sure you cover your fingers while entering your PIN.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Most ATMs look the same: there’s the screen, the number pad, the envelope holder—you kinda know that so far. When you walk in a new vestibule, make sure there’s nothing strange about it, like this gray box holding a microSD card to store stolen information.
UNCRACK THE CODE
Try to spot cracks near the receipt slot: if you find any, it means an ATM skimmer was there before you. This is probably a sign that they opened it to place a scanner inside, to steal as much information as they can.
Some criminals will place a fake keypad on an ATM to read your PIN. How to avoid it? Try to move the keypad: if it’s loose, there’s probably a fake one involved; so don’t use it and report it ASAP.
IT’S SLOT FAKE
Another method of ATM trickery involves the attachment of a fake card reader that is sticking out. Though everything might look normal, in reality the attachment will eat your card—and probably display an error message.
SMILE, WE’RE STEALING FROM YOU
Most keypads on ATMs have a plastic hand guard that’s supposed to cover your fingers while you’re entering you PIN. Believe it or not, smart thieves can install a pinhole camera in it to record your moves.
CHECK AND OUT
Some people believe that because ATMs belong to banks, they’re the safest place to be. However, ATM scammers are always a step ahead of you: make sure you check the whole machine before blindfoldedly entering your card or PIN: check for loose parts like panels and slots, where there could be cameras or scanners.