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ATM safety crucial during holiday season
Written by Clayton Neville   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 13:17

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau of East Texas

With holiday shopping in full swing, many of us will be using our debit cards for transactions.  This is the reason many retailers have ATM machines in their place of business or an ATM machine is located nearby. Scammers can be found wherever transactions occur, and in this case, it’s no different.

“ATM’s are a great convenience, but they can compromise both your physical safety as well as increase your risk for identity theft”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Reports of ATM robbery attempts and identity theft will typically increase this time of year.”

BBB provides the following tips on how to be safe when using an ATM machine along with some tips to protect yourself from being a victim of ATM skimming. 

  • Pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Don't select an ATM at the corner of a building - corners create a blind spot. Use an ATM located near the center of a building. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.
  • Maintain awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If you are, drive immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business.
  • Do not allow people to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry or take other valuables to the ATM. This is an added incentive to an assailant.
  • Never count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, keep your engine running and your doors locked.
  • Closely monitor your bank statements, and immediately report any problems to your bank.
  • If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.

How to Avoid being Skimmed

Skimmers, devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users, often from plastic or plaster, so that they blend right into the ATM’s façade. The device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phony reader, and their account info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby.


Skimming typically involves the use of a hidden camera to record customers’ entry of their PINs into the ATM’s keypad. In some cases, criminals attach a phony keypad on top of the real keypad which records every keystroke as customers punch in their PINs.

Before you use your ATM card:

  • Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it…be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged,
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
  • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).
  • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas…they are a popular target of skimmers.
  • If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373. 

With holiday shopping in full swing, many of us will be using our debit cards for transactions.  This is the reason many retailers have ATM machines in their place of business or an ATM machine is located nearby. Scammers can be found wherever transactions occur, and in this case, it’s no different.

ATM’s are a great convenience, but they can compromise both your physical safety as well as increase your risk for identity theft”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Reports of ATM robbery attempts and identity theft will typically increase this time of year.”

BBB provides the following tips on how to be safe when using an ATM machine along with some tips to protect yourself from being a victim of ATM skimming. 

·      Pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Don't select an ATM at the corner of a building - corners create a blind spot. Use an ATM located near the center of a building. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.

·      Maintain awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If you are, drive immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business.

·       Do not allow people to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN.

·      Do not wear expensive jewelry or take other valuables to the ATM. This is an added incentive to an assailant.

·      Never count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.

·      When using a drive-up ATM, keep your engine running and your doors locked.

·      Closely monitor your bank statements, and immediately report any problems to your bank.

·      If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.

How to Avoid being Skimmed

Skimmers, devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users, often from plastic or plaster, so that they blend right into the ATM’s façade. The device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phony reader, and their account info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby.

Skimming typically involves the use of a hidden camera to record customers’ entry of their PINs into the ATM’s keypad. In some cases, criminals attach a phony keypad on top of the real keypad which records every keystroke as customers punch in their PINs.

Before you use your ATM card:

·         Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it…be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged,

·         When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.

·         If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).

·         Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas…they are a popular target of skimmers.

·          If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.

 
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