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ATM Fraud on the Rise: How to Stay Safe While Getting Cash

ATM Fraud

ATM fraud may seem like an old concern.

But technological advances mean consumers need to be even more aware. Be cautious of the following:

1. ATMs in Strange Locations

Cash is convenient. While it's tempting to use whatever ATM is handy that can be risky. ATMs in financial institutions are regularly monitored, maintained and covered by security cameras.

In contrast, an ATM in a store-corner, may not get that same attention. Most of these machines are privately-owned and the operators assume little liability for their safety.

Use ATMs in secure locations, like financial institutions, for example the ATMs at any PrimeWay retail center. They are safer and well-maintained. If you just have to, choose ATMs in highly-visible and public areas to minimize encountering a tampered machine.

Checking the Way You Want It

2. Keypads or Card Readers Look New on an Old Machine

Two modifications are common in ATM scams. The first is a duplicate keypad on top of the existing one which relays PIN information to a third party, enabling fraud at a later time. The second is a phony card-reader which processes your card information and sends it elsewhere.

These scams have become more common and harder to detect as 3D-printing technology has improved and become more accessible. Several signs hint that a machine that has been tampered with.

First, keypads get worn over time. If an old machine has new-looking keys, something may have been modified. Similarly, card-readers develop scuffs and scratches; new-looking card-readers are another red flag.

Second, scammers install devices quickly, and may use quick-fixes like electrical tape which leave signs of modification.

If you think an ATM has been modified, don't use it!

ATM Fraud on the Rise: How to Stay Safe While Getting Cash

ATM fraud may seem like an old concern, but technological advances mean consumers need to be even more aware.

3. Are There Strangers Lingering Nearby?

Some scammers use their own senses to rob you. Standing behind you, the scammer will watch you enter your PIN. If successful, the scammer will mark you for pick pocketing and then use your ATM card to empty your account.

Other scammers use an accomplice who drops a bag behind you just after you enter your PIN and may also engage you in conversation. While you're distracted, the scammer grabs your card and replaces it with a phony, or just takes the cash you've withdrawn and runs.

To protect yourself, cover your hand when entering your PIN, stand close to the machine, and keep an eye out for anyone sitting near the machine on a laptop - they may be monitoring a camera designed to capture your PIN. Most importantly, stay focused. Ignore anyone who approaches you until you've finished your transaction and watch your belongings.

If you think you've been victimized by ATM fraud, report it immediately. Waiting to report the scam could mean you're responsible for all the bills the criminal racks up, but if you report it within two days, your liability is capped at $50 with PrimeWay.


Author Bio


Since 1937, PrimeWay Federal Credit Union has been a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing superior financial services to members in the Houston area. We offer more personalized services than you'll traditionally find at more conventional financial institutions. Our hallmarks are low interest rate loans, higher dividends on deposits and excellent member services.

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