ATM skimming happens when your credit or debit card number is stolen during what seems like a normal transaction. Some card readers have been rigged to look completely normal, but underneath they have a “boot” that captures your card information and stores it, so someone can use it for their own purposes.
It is extremely difficult for the average person to detect the device over the card slot reader. However, credit card companies can help. If you submit a fraud claim, credit card companies can find patterns based on where their cardholders shop and investigate specific locations.
The FBI offers these tips to help you avoid being the victim of ATM skimming:
- Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.
- When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
- If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).
- Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas. They are a popular target of skimmers.
- If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.