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The Nitty Gritty

Fighting Back Against ATM Skimmers

Do the reports of skimmers on ATM machines have you thinking about cutting up your debit card? Before you do anything rash, it’s important to keep in mind that the relatively rare occurrence of ATM fraud doesn’t outweigh the benefits your card offers.

Unlike cash, a lost debit card can be easily replaced. Some institutions, like Ardent, can create a replacement card for you instantly. Online tools can minimize issues through mobile apps and text alerts. You may be able to turn off a missing card with a mobile app and sign up for transaction notifications.

Should become a victim of fraud by having your account info stolen, any funds fraudulently debited from your account will be reimbursed to you if you report the fraud as soon as it’s discovered. This is referred to as “zero liability.” Your financial institutions debit agreement will spell out exactly what you are liable for in the event of fraud. 

Commit to diligently monitoring your accounts so you’ll know quickly if your card is compromised. Checking your balance using eBanking on your mobile phone or computer is an easy way to keep track. Also, take advantage of mobile tools that will help you monitor. For example, Ardent offers SecurLOCK, a mobile app which allows you to control how, when and where your debit card can be used. Plus, it provides instant notifications whenever a purchase is made with your card.

For those times when you need to get cash, here are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of being a victim of ATM skimmers:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone lurking, use a machine elsewhere.
  2. Look for signs of tampering by doing the following:
    • Check the top and speakers of the terminal for a camera, holes or anything else that seems unusual.
    • Make sure the color of the card readers and terminals match and align.
    • Where there are side-by-side machines, make a quick comparison to make sure they look the same.
    • Pay attention to the stability of the card reader. The reader should be firmly affixed to the machine and not loose.
  3. Be picky about the location of the ATM. When possible, use ATMs located inside a highly trafficked building. These locations are typically safer since it’s more difficult for thieves to alter the machine undetected.
  4. Use an ATM that reads the EMV chip when possible. ATMs that lock your card in the machine during the transaction are most likely utilizing the EMV chip, instead of the magnetic stripe. Using a machine with an EMV chip card reader is preferable because they take advantage of the tokenization process, which shields your personal information even if the ATM has a hidden skimmer.
  5. Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN number, regardless of the machine type. Even if the bad guys get your info from the magnetic stripe, they’ll still need the PIN to take cash from your account.
By taking advantage of built-in security features, monitoring your accounts and assessing the ATMs you use, you can decrease the likelihood of being victimized.
Learn more about SecurLOCK