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Protect Your Debit Card Number from ATM Skimming

23 November 2010   Mary Hawkes
There are new ATM dangers out there, here are things you want to be cautious of.

atmmachine(Prescott, AZ – November 18, 2010) Even if you’re selective about which ATMs you use, you can still become a victim of identity thieves who place seamless devices on machines to steal debit card information. ATM skimming is a growing problem and the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers take a few steps to protect themselves from becoming the next victim.

According to Bankrate.com, ATM skimmers are close to reaping $1 billion annually from unsuspecting consumers. Javelin Strategy & Research estimates that one in five people have become victims.

Identity thieves tamper with ATMs in any number of different ways in order to steal debit card numbers and PINs. It only takes a few seconds to install cameras over the keypad or a device over the card reader. ATMs aren’t the only hot spots, credit card swipers at gas pumps and retailers can be tampered with as well.

“Skimming devices are becoming increasingly harder to detect and often blend in seamlessly with the ATM,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO. “If you’re going to use an ATM, it’s important to monitor your accounts closely so you can quickly detect any fraudulent activity on your card and minimize your losses.”

Following are a few ways to fight identity thieves at the ATM:

Protect your PIN – When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits. False keypads placed over the real keypad are also a way scammers get PIN numbers so if the keypad looks different, move on.

Give it a wiggle – Skimming devices are often false panels attached to the ATM—such as where you put your card into the machine. If parts of the ATM look damaged or different, give it a wiggle. Also look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage. Don’t hesitate to walk away and use another ATM if it doesn’t feel right.

Be picky with your ATMs – Avoid using ATMs in poorly lighted or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over standalone ATMs in public places. Not only do identity thieves attach devices to legitimate ATMs to steal numbers, they will also place their own phony ATMS in public places.

Keep an eye on your statements – The most vigilant person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, and it’s important to always keep a close eye on your accounts—particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits—so that you can quickly report any suspicious activity on your account.

Report fraud immediately – Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit cards vary but depend largely on when you report the fraudulent activity. If you wait too long to report the fraud, your bank account could be cleaned out and your bank might not reimburse you. You may also wish to contact the Office of the Arizona Attorney General, www.azag.gov.

For more advice on fighting identity thieves and preventing fraud, visit us online at www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-scams/

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For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Mary Hawkes at 928-772-3410 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About BBB Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Incorporated locally in 1938, today your BBB serves communities in Central, Northern and Western Arizona, supported by over 9,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.


Mary Hawkes | Director, Yavapai County Office