Guarding Your Money: How to Protect Yourself from ATM Fraudsters

ATM debit card frauds scams skimming shimming swapping trapping

People still withdraw money from ATM despite the rising popularity of digital payments and online banking. Maybe because cash is still widely used for various transactions especially in small businesses and rural areas.

Also, ATMs are also used to access other services such as balance inquiries, deposits, fund transfers, and bill payments. Some people also prefer cash transactions for privacy and security reason or when they do not want to leave a digital trail.

You will find ATMs everywhere from gas stations to shopping malls, and due to their ease of usage, people use these machines without giving a second thought. However, in today’s fast paced world convenience often comes with some risks and this is where some scammers and fraudsters come in to steal your hard earned money. 

Whether you’re withdrawing cash for a night out or simply checking your balance, criminals are devising new ways to steal your information and money. Here, we have prepared a list of some of the common ATM machine and Card scams which are common around the world.

Card Skimming

This is the most common technique used by fraudsters where they clone your card by installing a device in the card slot of the ATM machine. The device is installed near the ATM card slot where it reads the magnetic strip of your card. 

Once this information is available to the scammer, he can easily transfer it to another dummy card. However, the scammer would also need access to your PIN and that is accomplished using a pinhole camera hidden in the machine or the premises where the ATM machine is installed. This camera records your keystrokes when you enter your ATM pin in the keypad.

To avoid this scam make sure that you visually inspect the card slot for any devices which may have been installed to read your card. Try to cover the keypad when you enter your password or PIN on the keypad.

Card Shimming

This is similar to the Card Skimming technique used by the scammers but this one is targeted towards cards which have a RFID chip installed on them. These devices read your debit/credit card when you place your card in their close proximity. 

However, the card’s PIN or combination is also needed to make the transaction and the scammers would also try to get that by installing a camera near the ATM machine.

Card Trapping

In this method the scamster places a device in the ATM machine, which traps your card in the swiping slot or inside the machine. The scammers also paste a fake customer care number near the machine telling you to call it if your card ever gets stuck.

The fake Customer care executive would ask for your ATM pin as you are more likely to give it to the bank representative than a random stranger. The scammer would then release your card but not before withdrawing or transferring all the money to another account.

Fake Keypad

In this method a fake keypad is installed on the machine which completely covers the actual keypad. This thin metal keypad records your PIN and saves it for the scammer. The scammer would also install a card skimmer or shimmer to clone the card when you swipe or insert it into the machine.

To avoid this scam make sure that the keypad is not wobbly or jutting out beyond the surface. Also they keys would be a bit harder to press as they are covering the actual keys.

Cash Trapping

In this method the scammers target the cash dispensing mechanism of the ATM machine. They install a device which jams this system, not allowing you to collect the cash after making a successful withdrawal. This device also, doesn’t allow the cash to be put back into the machine. 

They remove the device when you leave the ATM premises without collecting the cash which the scammer keeps for himself.

Card Swapping

This method is also common where a scammer replaces your card with an identical card. They also get access to your PIN using a camera or by shoulder surfing behind you. Shoulder surfing refers to a technique where the person exactly behind you tries to read your keystrokes.

Some scammers even have devices where they just need a few seconds to print an exact replica of your card on a plastic strip.

Installing a Fake ATM

This method is not so common and happens mostly in places where the ATM is located in a remote or non-monitored area. The scammers install a ATM like machine or device which would read your card details and ATM pin but would never dispense cash.

The stolen details are then used to steal your money by making a clone of your card. In order to avoid this scam make sure you are withdrawing from ATMs which are located in a secure and safe location and are monitored regularly.

Always report any suspicious activity or tampered ATMs to their bank immediately. Also, always cover the ATM keypads while entering your PIN or password. Also try to use ATMs which are located in safe, monitored and well lit areas.