As noted in a previous blog, although debit cards are very convenient, their use is not without risks. Before you use an ATM, whether it’s the one you always frequent, or a different one, be on the lookout for skimmers. These are attachments put on an ATM which allows a thief to read the magnetic strip on your debit card. The Consumerist shows some pictures of what one might look like here: http://consumerist.com/2009/04/heres-what-a-card-skimmer-looks-like-on-an-atm.html. Unfortunately, thieves continue to improve their equipment, and it’s not always easy to spot one even if you do remember to look. Some basic safety rules to follow when using an ATM include:
- Since a skimmer also relies on a camera to take a picture of the keypad as you enter your pin number, be sure to hold your other hand over the hand entering the pin in order to obscure it from the camera.
- If something about the ATM doesn’t look right to you, walk away.
- Use an ATM at a location that has video surveillance.
- Use ATMs in heavily trafficked areas where there is less likelihood that a thief would be able to place a skimmer.
- Use ATMs inside of banks.
- Always keep alert to the people around you before using your card.
- If you’re traveling, consider a prepaid card that only has a limited amount of money on it. If it’s stolen or your pin compromised, you won’t risk losing all of your savings.
- Set up online banking so you can check your account regularly to make sure there is nothing unusual going on.