The #1 way to protect yourself from ATM card skimmers

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The #1 way to protect yourself from ATM card skimmers
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For years, money expert Clark Howard has warned about thieves using skimmers at ATMs to steal your money.

Now, an alarming new report finds there was a 70% increase in the number of debit cards compromised at ATMs and card readers used by merchants in 2016, according to FICO Card Alert Service.

Read more: Dangerous new ATM skimmers could empty your bank account

How to spot ATM skimmers

Police departments are having a difficult time keeping up with the bad guys because they’re constantly using new technology.

That said, there’s something you can do every time you walk up to an ATM that can minimize your risk of becoming the next victim of a skimming scam: Just wiggle everything!

Start by grabbing the plastic slot on an ATM where you insert your card and shake it to make sure it doesn’t come loose.

In this video uploaded to YouTube, a man noticed glue around the plastic slot. When he gave it a tug, the skimming device – an exact replica – came right off.

If he hadn’t inspected the machine for loose parts, his card information could have been stolen.

If you’re not familiar with this scam, a skimmer records data stored on the magnetic stripe of payment cards and transmits the info to thieves to make duplicate cards.

Scammers may also use tiny cameras to capture your PIN when you enter it on the keypad.

After you’ve checked the card reader and keyboard for signs of tampering, look for hidden cameras. When entering your PIN, always use your free hand to cover your other hand.

The majority of skimming incidents occur at non-bank ATMs. That’s why it’s best to avoid independent ATMs — like those often found at gas stations and other random locations — that aren’t associated with a particular bank.

Finally, if you can ditch your debit card for a credit card, do it! Credit cards come with more consumer protections.

Read more: This simple list could save you if your credit cards are ever stolen

Common Cents: Debit vs. Credit

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Mike Timmermann About the author: Mike Timmermann
Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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