types of ATM fraudYou may have heard stories of people getting mugged at ATMs, but did you know that there are other ways that thieves can steal from you at an ATM? While you may not think that a trip to the ATM could end with a criminal stealing your payment card’s data or trapping the money you’re trying to access, these are unfortunate possibilities that are wise to consider. In fact, according to the ATM Industry Association’s 2017 Global Fraud and Security Survey, 54% of ATM owners surveyed reported an increase in ATM crime during the previous year. For these reasons, the next time you’re planning to use an ATM, be on the lookout for the following types of ATM fraud to better prevent them.

Types of ATM fraud to beware

Card skimming and shimming

Card skimming and shimming are types of ATM fraud that we’ve covered in past posts, but here’s a helpful refresher if you’d like one. These types of fraud occur when scammers insert inconspicuous devices into or overtop of card-reading terminals. These devices, known as skimmers and shims, transmit or harvest your data when you insert your card into card readers. To collect further information needed for their misdeeds, a criminal may also install a camera close enough to record your PIN, recording it as you type it into the keypad. Sometimes, scammers may also place a false overlay on top of the actual keyboard or keypad, which allows them to log the information as you enter it.

Criminals engage in these activities because they can then use the collected data in various ways, such as using your account to make card-not-present (CNP) transactions online or cloning your payment information onto a fake credit card, and then using that card to make unauthorized purchases under your name. Criminals can also use your stolen card information to commit identity theft or carry out other criminal activities, making skimming and shimming one of the more devious methods of ATM fraud.

Card and cash trapping

Card trapping and cash trapping occur when scammers install devices that can trap cash or ATM cards for the criminals to steal. To carry out card-trapping fraud, a scammer may place a device over a card acceptance slot. When an ATM user tries to withdraw cash from an ATM, the device traps the user’s card, preventing the user from retrieving it. Another variation on this is a cash trap, which captures the bills an ATM dispenses. The unsuspecting user may blame it on a run-of-the-mill equipment error, when in reality the ATM has been compromised, and the scammer is lurking nearby waiting for them to leave so the stolen cash or card can be retrieved.

Targeting ATMs through malware

Attackers may also target ATMs by executing malware attacks, infecting an ATM with malware that helps them carry out fraud. For example, attackers can use malware as a virtual skimming device. When a customer uses an ATM infected with this type of malware, their card information is logged for the scammer, who can either have it transmitted to them wirelessly via the malware or copy the data later on after retrieving the device.

Another technique that you might hear about is “jackpotting.” This type of attack recently started appearing in the U.S., and it occurs when a hacker installs malware onto an ATM, giving them control to dispense cash on demand. However, as Money reported, consumers don’t need to be directly worried about jackpotting, as this technique alone currently doesn’t compromise consumer information. That said, a bank whose ATMs are compromised by jackpotting schemes could be vulnerable to other types of fraud designed to steal customer data.

“Old-school” types of ATM fraud

While it may be easy to overlook “old-school” fraud in the Digital Age, when it comes to the potential of getting physically attacked or spied on at ATMs, you should still be wary. Unfortunately, fraudsters don’t need high-tech devices to cheat you – it’s still possible for someone to hold you at gunpoint and force you to take out cash for them or steal your payment card and make unauthorized charges on it, for instance. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for anyone who might be trying to spy on oblivious users. Be wary if someone is standing close enough to see the PIN you’re entering, for example. It’s also wise to exercise caution if someone offers their assistance to help you at an ATM (such as when you’re traveling in a foreign country), since they could potentially have something more sinister in mind when they “assist” you.

For all these reasons and more, it’s a good idea to figure out how you can better protect yourself from different types of ATM fraud. Keep reading to find out some great tips that can assist you with doing just that.

What you can do to better protect yourself

While there may not be a way to completely shield yourself from the various types of ATM fraud, there are some preventative measures you can take to better avoid these fraudulent activities. Here’s what you can do:

Be aware of your surroundings

Look for signs of suspicious activities and remain vigilant, no matter what time of day it is or where an ATM is located. If anything seems off, opt to use a different ATM. Also, try to access ATMs that aren’t located in poorly lit, isolated areas. As a rule of thumb, it’s typically better to withdraw cash from an ATM within a bank (or directly from the teller, if possible).

When you’re using an ATM, keep an eye on the people around you. To block potential spies when you’re using an ATM, make sure to properly block its screen and keyboard from view with your hand, arm and body. It’s also recommended that you store any receipts and transaction records, both of which you should keep rather than throw away near the ATM, as soon as possible – the same goes for your wallet.

Check for suspicious devices or evidence of tampering

Before using any ATM, inspect it thoroughly for anything suspicious, such as a card skimmer or shim attached to or inserted into it. You can try physically jiggling or pulling on the card reader, as well as looking around and under the rest of the ATM for any loose or out-of-place elements (e.g., holes, sticky residues, duplicate security cameras) that could be a sign of tampering. Because criminals are inventive, there are more different kinds of devices for committing ATM fraud than you can probably think of, but this ATM fraud inspection guide offers a thorough look at how to spot many of them. Also, remember that card readers can also be located on secured doors for ATMs within bank vestibules, and those are just as vulnerable to fraud as the ATMs they protect. Ultimately, if something seems wrong, your best bet is to use a different ATM or wait to speak to a bank teller in person.

Use a chip card

It’s best to use a payment card that has an EMV chip, because these tech advancements better secure your payment card – especially when it comes to shielding it from card skimmers. That said, keep in mind that card shimmers can still harvest information from chip cards, and chip cards won’t be able to prevent much when it comes to CNP online fraud. Regardless, these cards are still much safer to use than their magnetic stripe predecessors, and by now most banks should have issued them. If not, you can contact your bank to request one. Keep in mind that not all ATMs have chip readers, so if you’re thinking of using one that only reads magnetic stripes, you may want to opt for another ATM at a different location.

Lastly, regularly check your bank statements

ATM fraud isn’t something that starts and stops at an ATM. As such, you should monitor your bank accounts and credit cards regularly, looking for signs of fraudulent activities. By doing so, you can catch and report potential misdeeds earlier in the game, reducing the consequences of ATM fraud you may be subjected to. Remember that the earlier you report fraud, the better your chances are of minimizing the damage or getting your money back, if any was stolen in the process.

Now that you know more about ATM fraud and how you can better protect yourself when using these machines, keep reading our blog to find out how to catch fraud of all kinds in its early stages. To learn more, browse through our identity theft protection blog.