Protect Yourself From Debit Card Skimming

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Awareness is the first step to protecting your debit card information. Unfortunately, skimmers are becoming more prevalent nationwide in many places including ATM’s and gas pumps. Being aware and knowing what to look for is the first step to protecting your debit card information from skimmers. A skimmer is a device that fraudulently records data from a debit card. Skimmers typically have two components. The first part is a device that is attached over the ATM’s card slot. This device reads your card information as the card is inserted into an ATM. The second part is a small camera that is aimed at the keypad. The camera records your PIN number as you enter it. Once acquired, criminals then use the card information for cash withdrawals and fraudulent purchases.

Recommended steps to help safeguard your card information at an ATM:

  1. Visually inspect the ATM prior to using it. Does anything look out of place? Are there signs of tampering like screwdriver marks in the frames or pieces not lining up?
  2. Jiggle the card reader. An uncompromised ATM card reader is very securely attached to the ATM and it won’t move. If the card reader area seems loose or damaged. Do not use the ATM.
  3. Cover the keypad with your hand while entering your PIN every time you use an ATM. This minimizes the chances of your PIN number from being recorded.
  4. Trust your instincts. If something seems off, you’re probably right. If you suspect anything suspicious with an ATM, inform the branch manager immediately.
  5. Set up transaction alerts, minimum balance alerts and other notifications in your online banking account preferences and monitor your accounts regularly.

These 5 steps can help to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of debit card skimming. Most financial institutions have fraud monitoring systems in place and would typically notify you about potential fraud before you notice it. Of course, if you feel your debit card has been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.

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