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How to Protect Yourself from ATM Skimmer Scams

Updated on December 27, 2012

There will always be a small minority of people in this world who find joy in figuring out how to steal things from other people. Card skimmers happen to be at the top of that small list, and their passion is in finding ways to steal your debit or credit card numbers and pin number, so that they can copy your card and clear out your bank account.

Thankfully, the technology they use to do this, is still very fallible, and there are some simple strategies you can follow to prevent yourself from becoming another victim of card skimming.

Cover The Keypad

In most cases, card skimmers do not include keyloggers, which means that while they can get your credit card number when you swipe it through their custom skimmer slot, they cannot get your pin code unless they find a way to watch you enter it into the keypad.

This means that if you do something as simple as covering the keypad, leaning over the machine as you use it, and being aware of where the security camera's are in the store you're at, can help you prevent the threat of being skimmed.

Shake That Slot!

Seriously, before you swipe your card anywhere, make sure you give the card slot a good shake. If it's lose, moves up and done or seems to be covering up another slot, then it is probably a skimmer slot and not the authentic card slot that the store installed.

If you find yourself a loose slot, consider speaking to the store manager or just going to a different store.

Daily Withdrawal Limitations

While most ATM's come with withdrawal limits, card skimmers are not necessarily going to take your card to another ATM to steal your money. In fact, they are much more likely to start out pulling only small amounts that you wouldn't notice, or they will use fake id's to go and withdrawal large amounts of money from the bank.

In order to prevent this from happening if you do get your card skimmed, you should consider adding withdrawal limits to your checking account. This is especially helpful if you do not need to withdrawal large amounts of money on a regular basis. Even if you do, you can still keep the majority of your money by setting appropriate amounts.

Avoid Stand-Alone ATMs

They are not very common, but in some cities their are authentic ATM's that are set up outside of buildings in random areas that may not have a lot of access to banks or indoor ATM's. Now, that being said, there are also plenty of fake ATM's that are setup to look like these strangely placed ATM's, and the risk is greater with stand-alone units than with in-store ATM's, that you'll get skimmed. So if you can avoid it, use an ATM that is in a business or actually attached to your bank.


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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      good to know. These things really scare me, I always wonder. I feel a bit more prepared now.

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 4 years ago from Seattle

      Yes, I hear their trying to create deceptive keylogger programs to go along with the rest of the scam all over the world, which won't make things any easier. Though for now, so long as everyone does what you're doing, they should be fine =)

    • Tricia1000 profile image

      Tricia1000 4 years ago from South Africa

      This crime happens a lot in South Africa. I always cover my pin number when I withdraw money from an ATM machine. These criminals also get more and more sophisticated.