Avoid falling victim to ATM skimmers

Identity thieves work hard to mask their tricks. One common way they collect people’s credit card information is by using skimmers, small card readers that can fit in the palm of your hand.

They’ve even installed skimmers on gas pumps and ATMs, collecting new credit card numbers with each transaction.

NPR’s Planet Money released a visual guide this week to spotting skimmers on ATM machines, but some of the tips can apply to other self-checkout card readers.

NPR recommends checking three things:

  • Look for cameras.  Identity thieves will place a camera near the ATM’s light source to capture PINs.
  • Check out the card slot. NPR pointed out that skimmers are usually installed in a hurry, and so are not always attached well. If the card reader is loose, walk away and report it to your bank.
  • Check out the keypad. Much like they do with cameras, identity thieves will install a fake keypad to read your PIN number. Once again, if the keypad is loose, walk away.

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