Every day millions of people walk around with a small amount of cash in their pocket. Only when they desperately need more cash do they rush to the nearest ATM machine to make a withdrawal. Most people aren’t aware of many scams thieves are using to illegally obtain their debit/credit card information. A recent scam reported by FBI and law enforcement had thieves using over 130 different ATM machines in 49 cities worldwide within 30 minutes. The thieves were somehow able to bypass the $500 daily withdrawal limit that ATM machines have. This means they were able to withdraw cash until there was nothing left in the account. How much money did the thieves get away with?

9 million dollars

Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to one of us by making a few changes when we use ATM machines

1. Cover your PIN Number

This is the simplest and most common way for thieves to gain access to your accounts. Thieves will sometimes have small cameras installed near ATM machines that record your PIN number. Other thieves will stand behind you and look over your shoulder to see your PIN number. The craftier thieves wait across the street with binoculars and watch you enter your PIN number. The best way to cover your PIN number is to get close to the ATM machine and place your wallet or purse over the keypad. Then you should keep the hand you’re using to type in your PIN number flat against the keypad. Continue to keep your fingers flat while you’re entering your PIN number. This will prevent us from using our index finger to “point” to the number we’re about it type in.

2. Don’t Leave the ATM Machine Too Early

People  generally swipe their ATM card, enter their information, remove the cash that was dispensed and walk away. The problem here is that most ATM’s will ask you if you’d like another transaction. This is very unsafe because you’ve just invited anyone standing behind you to withdraw more money from your account. Thieves will sometimes run to the ATM after you’ve walked away and attempt to withdraw money from your account. We can prevent this by standing at the ATM and making sure our session has ended. Press the “enter” button or the touch screen to verify that your session is over.

3. Shake, Rattle and Roll

Inspect the card slot before you insert it. Thieves will install fake card slots that will steal your information once you insert your card. According to the U.S. Secret Service, using fake card readers or skimmers is one of the fastest growing crimes. Fake card readers or skimmers are usually placed over the original card slot. If the card slot seems like it’s extending out too far then shake it to see if it’s part of the original machine. If it’s not steady then it might be fake. Look at the instructions if they contain pictures. See if the picture of the card slot in the instructions matches the slow on the ATM machine.

4. Use ATM Machines Inside of Banks

You should use an ATM inside of a bank whenever possible. Banks have multiple security cameras near the ATM area and have their machines frequently maintained. Freestanding ATM’s are risky to use because thieves could install cameras, skimmers, programs, etc that will steal your information. Freestanding ATM machines in gas stations are targeted by many thieves. And don’t even think about making cash deposits in an ATM machine that isn’t located in a bank. Thieves sometimes buy dummy ATM’s and place them in a public area. These ATM’s don’t actually work and are strictly used to steal people’s account information and cash.

5. Monitor Your Account Activity

Make routine checks of your debit card, credit card, and bank statements. Most banks offer online banking options which have updated statements. Banks even have the option of sending you alerts by text message. It is more difficult to be reimbursed for any unauthorized transactions if you discover and report it days/weeks after it happens. Credit cards generally offer better protection plans and should be used if you have any type of concern about using your ATM/debit card.

The worldwide ATM Industry Association reports over $1 billion in annual global losses from credit card fraud and electronic crime associated with ATM machines. Let’s keep ourselves and our money safe by following the tips listed here.

Please share any experiences, questions or suggestions, please leave comments below or feel free to e-mail me through my Contact Page. I reply to every e-mail I receive.