Don’t be Scammed by Skimmers

There’s been much buzz in the news lately about ATM skimming—when bad guys electronically steal or “skim” a cardholder’s personal financial information during ATM transactions through the use of electronic card readers and mini cameras, carefully placed to read your PIN number. It’s unconscionable, yes—but if you take proper precautions, you can protect yourself from this threat to your financial security.

Take note of your surroundings. Inspect the ATM & ATM area: Does the PIN pad feel funny? Is there glue residue on the machine? Is the card reader loose? Question anything out of the ordinary—if something looks suspicious, find another ATM. Check out these pictures posted on to familiarize yourself with what a skimmer looks like. (They’re pretty crafty.)

Cover Your PIN: As with any transaction, you want to protect your PIN. Use one hand to conceal the keypad while you punch in your PIN—without that piece of information, the bad guys can’t hack into your account.

Note that ATMs in areas that are unattended by personnel—bank drive-thrus, malls, outside ATMs—have a higher likelihood of being rigged with skimmers. Be extra vigilant in these locations.

Finally, if you think you’ve been the victim of skimming, contact your bank immediately.

Otherwise, play it safe with your surroundings and be secretive with your PIN—and you’ll keep your savings intact.