ATM Scams

ATM Fraud: What It Looks Like and How to Avoid It

These days, protecting yourself from ATM fraud means more than covering the keypad as you enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Just as technology continues to evolve, financial scammers update their methods accordingly. From big data breaches to seasonal fraud such as tax scams, it can be hard to keep up with the latest schemes. That’s why Union Bank brings you crucial information and actionable tips about the latest types of financial fraud. Read on to understand what ATM fraud consists of and how you can avoid falling victim to it.

The Most Common Types of ATM Frauds

Most people would say that the two biggest threats are getting robbed at the ATM or having the person in line behind you view your PIN; however, ATM scams (like data breaches and other financial crimes) have grown more sophisticated in recent years. Thieves don’t need to be present to force you to withdraw the contents of your account. The latest ATM frauds are perpetuated through technology and hacking, so you likely won’t even notice that something fishy is going on. Here are the four most common types of ATM frauds you need to be aware of in 2018:

  • Skimming: This type of ATM scam involves a skimmer device that criminals place on top of or within the card slot. To record your PIN number, the criminals may use a hidden camera or an overlay that covers the original PIN pad. Using the card numbers and PIN’s they record, thieves create duplicate cards to withdraw money from consumers’ accounts. Unlike losing your debit card or having it stolen, you won’t realize anything is amiss until unauthorized transactions take place. Take a look at these so you know how to detect ATM skimmers.
  • Shimming: This is the latest update to skimming. Instead of reading your card number, criminals place a shimming device deep inside the ATM to record your card’s chip information. The end result is the same as skimming because thieves use the stolen chip data to create “cloned” versions of your debit card.
  • Cash-out: This scam targets multiple accounts from the same financial institution. Armed with a hacked bank employee’s credentials, the criminal alters account balances and withdrawal limits. Using stolen debit card numbers captured from a separate skimming attack, they can “cash out” the ATM until it’s out of money.
  • Jackpotting: While there are multiple types of jackpotting attacks, typically, these incidents involve gaining physical access to the inside of the machine. The criminals may replace hardware or install malicious software giving them control of the cash dispensing function. Jackpotting is similar to a cash out scam, but it does not require the criminal to have any customer account details or stolen debit card information.

If you report an ATM/debit card missing before someone uses it, you are not responsible for unauthorized transactions.

How to Avoid ATM Frauds

Now that you have a better understanding of the latest ATM frauds, let’s look at the best practices for ATM security. While card holders won’t be held responsible for unauthorized cash withdrawals, it’s still inconvenient and frightening to have some or all of your account drained. You will have to wait for the matter to be resolved before you can access your funds again. If you think, “this couldn’t happen here,” local news station WCAX reported earlier this year that four Quebec men were sentenced for committing ATM fraud in Burlington and Essex, Vermont. Here’s what you can do to protect your debit card and checking account from fraud:

  • Don’t share your card or PIN with anyone else. Even spouses who share a bank account should have different PINs for their debit cards.
  • Examine an ATM before using it. Don’t be afraid to wiggle the card reader or PIN pad.  If either appear loose or fall off the machine, it may indicate the presence of a skimmer. Additionally, if there are any features that seem abnormal, or if you notice a
    “hidden” camera, notify bank staff or the police immediately and don’t use the ATM.
  • Take note of the people ahead of you in line for the ATM. If you see unusual behavior such as a person using more than one card to get cash, or someone who appears to be tampering with the machine, don’t use it and call the police.
  • Be wary of potential “phishing” messages via text or email that claim to be from your financial institution. Union Bank will never ask for sensitive information such as your debit card number or PIN.
  • The same thing goes for phone calls purportedly from your bank. Call the customer service number on the back of your card (for Union Bank 800-753-4343) to make sure you’re talking to a bank employee instead of a scammer.
  • Take advantage of every security feature your bank offers. Here at Union Bank, we take your security seriously and feature security advice prominently on our website.
  • Most financial institutions offer alerts for unusual account activity, such as out-of-state purchases or larger transactions. Make sure you’re signed up to receive these notifications. At Union Bank we offer the My Mobile Money app to help you control your debit card and monitor activity.
  • If your debit card is lost or stolen, or you believe sensitive information such as your PIN, card number, or online banking login has been compromised, call your bank right away.
  • Make it a habit to review your account activity online and/or through monthly statements. If you spot any suspicious activity, talk to your bank immediately. Even the most minuscule of withdrawals, such as $0.01, could be a warning sign of a financial scammer verifying the legitimacy of your debit card information before making a larger transfer.
  • If you ever are declined when attempting to make a signature (credit) transaction with your debit card, the card network may be unsure about the legitimacy of the transaction. Please attempt to make a PIN-based (debit) transaction  

Union Bank Cares About Your Security

Union Bank team members

As a community bank, we are always concerned with the safety and security of our customers and the larger communities we serve. Follow our Go Far Blog and Facebook page for fraud alerts and the latest tips on protecting yourself and your money from scams and fraud. Our friendly Customer Care Team is here to help if you have any questions or concerns.