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How to avoid the latest ATM scam

Here's what you should know to protect yourself against new ATM skimming devices.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 18, 2014 4:23PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyUse of devices to fraudulently "skim" data from ATM cards so crooks can drain your bank account is nothing new. But skimmers have evolved, and the new devices are so small and thin, they're pretty easy to miss.

According to Krebs on Security, the European ATM Security Team -- a nonprofit group that collects information on ATM fraud -- said the new skimmers sit within the throat of the ATM card reading slot, making them difficult to detect. The skimmers are used in conjunction with hidden cameras, which record consumers' personal identification numbers as they type them in.

bank ATM (© Image Source/Corbis/Corbis)The U.S. is more at risk for subsequent fraud involving skimmed ATM data than most European countries because we haven't transitioned to more secure chip-and-PIN technology. According to Krebs:

"In countries where the ATM EMV rollout has been completed most losses have migrated away from Europe and are mainly seen in the USA, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America," the EAST report notes. "From the perspective of European card issuers the Asia-Pacific region seems to be eclipsing Latin America for such losses."

Fraudsters in Europe collect ATM card data, then send it to the U.S., where the data is encoded onto new (chipless) cards. Then crooks can pull out funds at ATM machines in the U.S. and Latin America, according to American Banker.

Skimmers are getting some help these days from 3-D printers, American Banker said.

"You can bet that if someone is able to make a plastic gun, card skimmers become almost trivial. These can be made without any major fabrication facility," says Chris Novak, managing principal of the risk team at Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "3-D printers can be purchased legally online or in various electronics stores. Consumers can 'print' whatever they want from the comfort of their living room. And if that wasn't easy enough, the design plans for tons of items are already available online, so the most difficult task may be deciding what colors to use."

If you want to protect yourself from an ATM skimming scam, follow these tips:

  • Avoid tourist or outdoor ATMs. Indoor bank lobby ATMs are typically safe to use because they're in view of bank employees and they usually have constant camera surveillance.
  • Red flags. There's often an indication that the machine has been tampered with. "The usual 'red flags' include loose, crooked, damaged or scratched ATM, POS systems or gas pumps and you should also be wary if you notice any tape or adhesive residue on the machine itself because it could mean the machine was incorrectly tampered with or opened by criminals," American Banker said.
  • Keep it secret. Perhaps the simplest way to protect yourself is to shield the PIN pad with one hand when you enter your PIN.
  • Do your homework. Regularly checking your account balance and bank statements will help you spot any discrepancies. Report any unauthorized charges to your bank.

Have you ever been the victim of fraud?

More from Money Talks News

Jul 18, 2014 4:37PM

"In countries where the ATM EMV rollout has been completed most losses have migrated away from Europe and are mainly seen in the USA, , and Latin America," the EAST report notes. "From the perspective of European card issuers the Asia-Pacific region seems to be eclipsing Latin America for such losses."

In other words mandate Chip and Pin technology and end this.  Truth is banks have no real desire to stop the fraud.  Probably a GM ignition switch mentality.

Jul 18, 2014 6:35PM
Why no picture of the device they use so we can watch for it?
Jul 18, 2014 4:59PM
Come one, most everyone who has an  A.T.M. card has a cell phone. WHY don't a notice be sent out, like is this really you using the machine. And, why can't the crooks be caught, there is a camera recording your every move. What about a "tilt"  shutoff as soon as the A.T.M. is tampered with. I just don't get it.
Jul 21, 2014 8:20AM
The ATM in the bank lobby is a lot safer than the one on the curb next to the pawn shop.
Not a hard concept to grasp folks.
Jul 18, 2014 8:21PM
Minor point, but the writer for this article should have enough common sense to use correct terminology (people that post should as well).  Its not an 'ATM machine' because thats redundant.  For those that don't know, ATM stands for Automated Teller get your terms right.  Nor is it a PIN number as thats the same redundancy.
Jul 21, 2014 10:28AM
Europe and Asian countries are using the chip.Why not the US?The banks in the US would rather 
Their customers lose money than paying money to upgrade the system.The bottom line to US banks
Is the money.They could care less about the consumer/ customer.
Jul 18, 2014 5:03PM
seems like the ATM's are turning into Automatic Taking Machines.
Jul 18, 2014 6:36PM
Besides ATM... all Credit cards holders should have a PIN #... for either ATM or general use, especially if lost or stolen, no pin # , no access.
Jul 21, 2014 6:43AM
with all the TECH. out today the banks can stop this' I do not think they want to.!!!!!!!
Jul 18, 2014 9:04PM
The USA is always lagging, the sheeple are too dumb to know that their being ripped off!
Jul 18, 2014 9:09PM
Jul 21, 2014 9:19AM
As things deteriorate more and more economically because of greed, look for more deceit and thievery to grow out of greed as well. Greed, it's what makes the world go around.
Jul 21, 2014 10:07AM

Many ATMs are touch screen anyway, why is the keypad not on the screen.  The keys could be randomly placed on the screen as to not allow someone to easily observe.  Or have a 2nd small touchscreen where the current pad is. 

9 0 5           6 2 1          0 8 7

4 7 1           9 4 0          4 6 2

3 8 6           5 8 3          3 1 9

   2                 7                5

Read those and follow customers movements to figure out their codes!  But these measures are useless, because there is already a proven method the prevents more than 90% of this type of theft.  That is the placement of the chip on the Credit Card.  Even though the expense to convert the cards to include chips, U. S. companies won't convert even though it would save billions of dollars of theft.  But, these same companies are insured and get their money back, so there is no to little incentive.  International law should only insure for 50¢ to the dollar when banks fail to take appropriate standards to safe keep monies on deposit, regardless of the current technology.

Oh, an old method - use base 36.  Your 4 digit pin could be expanded to be 5, and instead of being just numbers, they be numbers and letters.  So a 4 digit pin has 10,000 possibilities.  But a 5 digit alpha numeric would have 60,466,176 possibilities.  Random, shaded, touch screen layout.

Consumers.  Have an account specifically to be able to use the ATM.  Put most of you monies in an account you normally don't access this way.  You leave that card in a safe, file or under mattress at home.  Only have $100 or so in the "Emergency-I Failed To Prior Plan-ATM" account!  You can do that now, don't need banks to fix it for you!

Jul 21, 2014 8:14AM
Yeah, blame someone else like 3d scanners, this is no money page. WHERE ARE THE STATS of where and how many skimmers have been discoverd and where? Love the way they always blame the end user or the vaporous apperition for thier lack of security.
Jul 21, 2014 8:58AM
It is indeed sad that if we want the protection for the use of a bank issued devise we will probably have to rely on the government to force the banks to invest into new technology. It is an eventuality, not if but when.
Jul 21, 2014 4:53AM
I only use ATMs in real emergency situations. I cash a check at the drive-thru window periodically and keep emergency cash in my wallet. It is folded up behind the picture of my family.  I never think about, but it is there to avoid the late night trip to the ATM. That works for me but perhaps a reloadable debit card might work for others. We all need to come up with safer alternatives then carrying around the bank card that can access your entire account. You wouldn't carry your entire pay envelope with you all week, but we carry plastic and PINs that represent everything we have in the world. I little common sense is needed. Also it is very difficult to be aware of your surroundings at the grocery store, ATM, or Starbucks when you are talking on the phone while swiping cards and entering PINs.
Jul 18, 2014 6:58PM
The cards skimmers are not only being used on the ATM machines!
They are also being used on gas pumps and any place else that allows the use of a credit or debit card!

There was a story a few months ago about how the gas stations across the southern part of the U.S. have skimmers installed in them!

You can read more about card skimmers at Krebs.

Jul 21, 2014 10:11AM
I seldom use an ATM. Just keep enough money in your account and a little cash in the pocket.
Jul 21, 2014 7:01AM
I did not mean the banks do not want to, they are not trying hard.
Jul 21, 2014 12:30PM
The more technology evolves, the more fraudulent the world becomes.
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