Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Be careful using an ATM

"Skimming" devices can steal your account information and PIN:
In a series of recent alerts, the FICO Card Alert Service warned of large and sudden spikes in ATM skimming attacks. On April 8, FICO noted that its fraud-tracking service recorded a 546 percent increase in ATM skimming attacks from 2014 to 2015.
“The number of ATM compromises in 2015 was the highest ever recorded by the FICO Card Alert Service, which monitors hundreds of thousands of ATMs in the US,” the company said. “Criminal activity was highest at non-bank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores, where 10 times as many machines were compromised as in 2014.”
A skimmer is a tiny device that thieves insert into the card reader.  It captures the information off of your ATM card before passing it to the actually ATM hardware.  A hidden video camera records your PIN.  The thieves then make a new card and empty your bank account.

The biggest risk is at non-bank ATM machines:
Some financial institutions are taking dramatic steps to head off skimming activity. Trailhead Credit Union in Portland, Ore., for example, has posted a notice to customers atop its Web site, stating:
“ALERT: Until further notice, we have turned off ATM capabilities at all 7-11 ATMs due to recent fraudulent activity. Please use our ATM locator for other locations. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
My recommendation is to get your cash at your bank's ATM.  If you want to be extra secure, use the ATM in their lobby - it is very difficult for someone to install a skimmer there because of the surveillance.


ccbpc said...

Around here, they're bad about putting skimmers at the gas pumps. Best to always go to the teller at your bank and do your transactions there, and when getting gas go inside and pay the cashier. Even then you're not completely safe, there was a video circulating a week or so ago showing two guys in a convenience store, one distracted the clerk while the other installed some device on the credit card machine.

Best bet is to avoid banks altogether, bury your money in Mason jars in the back yard and always use cash.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

You think atms are bad? We have parking meters that take credit cards. Dozens, maybe close to a hundred, credit card readers with no surveillance beyond the occasional cop driving by, and at night lit only by the closest streetlight. It's a credit card thief's wet dream.

Unknown said...

Some 15-years ago the local petrol station countertop card-wipe terminal had a skimmer in it. We always used credit cards, so after hanging up on a call from my card company asking for ID confirmation I called the number on the back of the card and verified for them that I had not just purchased the equivalent of $10000 worth of Bose home entertainment equipment in Mumbai, and they mailed to me new cards.

Many of our friends and neighbors, however, used their ATM bank cards. Although the stolen money was returned to their accounts within days, they all ended up spending months dealing with the knock-on repercussions of that short period with insufficient funds in their accounts.