Using ATMs to obtain someone’s personal information, like PIN numbers or debit card numbers has become a popular crime, officials said in a statement Tuesday. Highly developed and subtle skimming devices are making it easier for thieves to take your money almost immediately after you’ve completed a transaction.
“Consumers should always be observant when using ATM machines,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs. “Be especially vigilant when using an ATM you’ve never been to before.”
Criminals can gain access to everything from the expiration date on your credit or debit card to information encoded on the back of its magnetic strip. They then can recreate your credit card and access your accounts.
When approaching an ATM, experts say, take a look around to see if anything strange or different is present, such as a mirror or brochure holder. Make sure to check the machine for anything that appears out of the ordinary. These may be signs that hidden cameras or skimming devices have been placed over a card reader slot.
Officials with the state Department of Banking and Insurance have offered several tips to ATM users, including:
- When available use an ATM machine at a bank branch rather than at a shopping mall or in high-traffic areas.
- Cover the keyboard when entering in your PIN number.
- If anything about an ATM looks suspicious, walk away and report it to authorities.
- Avoid ATMs that are not located in well lit areas or are not publicly visible.
- Keep an eye out for skimming devices or any other false paneling and hidden camera that seem out of place.
- Even color schemes can be a tip off. If an item attached to the ATM doesn’t match the colors of your bank or its logo, don’t use that ATM.
- If you suspect a suspicious or fraudulent ATM contact your local authority and/or bank branch, if applicable.