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Four Ways to Protect Yourself From ATM Skimming

This time of year, criminals enhance their efforts to steal other people’s money. One of these methods that is still happening in the Portland area is ATM skimming.

Criminals need two things to make ATM skimming work: the data from your card’s magnetic strip and your PIN. To capture your data, a skimming device is usually placed where you insert your card. To get your PIN, a tiny camera is hidden nearby, often cleverly concealed to look like part of the ATM.

With this data, the fraudsters can create counterfeit cards and access your accounts. However, you can help protect yourself by following these steps:

  1. Check the machine. Before using your card at ANY ATM, do a quick check to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Ensure the card reader is not loose, crooked, or damaged.
  2. Be wary of non-Credit Union/Bank ATMs. The majority of skimming occurs at privately-owned ATMs. These are typically cash-dispensing machines and tend to be located in convenience stores, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, or check cashing establishments.
  3. Check the keypad. If numbers are hard to press or feel thick, it might be a false keypad used to obtain PINs.
  4. Block your PIN. Always enter your PIN as if someone is watching you, even if you think you’re alone.

If you ever feel suspicious that there may be an ATM skimming device present, its best to trust your instincts and use a different machine. It’s also wise to monitor your account transactions often and sign up for alerts via digital banking. A little extra caution can pay off!