Identity Theft Alert: How to Avoid Being a Victim of ATM Fraud

A "skimmer" is an instrument that has ability to reads and records all the account details that are stored electronically on the magnetic stripe of an ATM card. There is a wrong notion among few people that identical, ubiquitous automated teller machines do not attract high-tech cyber-thieves. According to recent reports, fraudsters have come back to ATMs in force as a favorite fishing hole for your debit card.

By doing just a bit of mechanical tampering, thieves can "harvest" your account information and PIN number in matter of few minutes. Once thieves manage to do that, they can easily produce a "clone" card. Furthermore, they can also shop online until your account becomes zero.

ATM crime increasing

ATM crime is increasing with every passing day especially after the use of fraud detection software on the credit card side, which has made signature cards real tough to attack. Because of this, there is not much of a surprise that thieves are preying on more vulnerable debit cards that are PIN-based.

You may not realize that plenty of debit theft cases can cause you much bigger financial damage as compared to credit card fraud. According to federal law, there is a restriction with regard to liability in credit card fraud to $50, that identical limit is only applicable to debit frauds that are reported within two days. After two days is over, you could be out anywhere from $500 to the complete fraud amount.

Point to be noted here is that victims of credit-card fraud quite a number of times have to fight it out with their credit card issuers in order to get rid of disputed charges from a bill. The situation gets even worse for debit-card victims.

In case of debit fraud, nine out of ten times thief actually drains the money directly from a checking account. This in turn leaves the victim to deal with bounced checks as well as missed payments. Downward-spiraling credit report can also be an issue in this scenario. Recent study has come to the conclusion that thieves compromise ATMs in plenty of ways. The most common one being that they link a skimming instrument over the card slot of a legitimate ATM.

Once customer inserts a debit card, first thing that happens is the transaction proceeds unimpeded. On the other hand, the thief electronically "harvests" the account details off the card's magnetic stripe. For signs of foul play, make sure that you check ATM

You need to take into consideration below-mentioned factors when selecting an ATM:

  • To start with, use a trusted ATM, normally one that is linked to your bank. Stay away from ATMs in unfamiliar or remote locations.
  • It’s your responsibility to check the card slot, keyboard and machine for tampering signs. It is quite vital that you stay away from the machine if the card slot jiggles or there is an overlay in the keyboard.
  • If possible, select machine that has security cameras. If you are not happy with anything, do not use the ATM.
  • During night time only go for a familiar, well-lighted ATM.

It has been noticed that banks and financial institutions normally cover losses of cardholder in few -- but by no means complete -- fraud cases with their much-publicized "zero liability" promise.

Avoiding ATM fraud

It is of paramount importance that you always protect your details by following below mentioned steps when using an ATM:

  • First and foremost, maintain a safe distance from others in line. In other words, do not allow other individuals to distract you or offer help.
  • Have your card out of wallet for instant use.
  • Rather than using a debit card, use credit card if you see anything suspicious. By following this route, there is going to be no PIN entry that could provide thieves access to your checking account. Furthermore in the event of fraud you will have zero liability. Since, cash advance fees are normally quite high, this move is not recommended if you carry a credit card balance on monthly basis.
  • If you not sure whether an ATM is working properly, press the cancel button, get rid of your card and report the ATM to your financial institution


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