Don’t become a victim of ATM skimming, here’s what you need to know

Some precautions you may want to take before withdrawing cash at an ATM
Don’t become a victim of ATM skimming, here’s what you need to know
Don’t become a victim of ATM skimming, here’s what you need to know
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More than four lakh rupees were drained from the bank accounts of 20 unsuspecting people in Thiruvananthapuram in a matter of seconds. They were all victims of skimming. While the Kerala police is on the lookout for three foreigners suspected to be behind the state’s biggest ATM fraud, here’s what you can do to keep your hard earned money safe from fraudsters. 

What’s skimming?  

Thieves place skimming device on the ATM Counter, by either replacing the original card reader or placing it on top of the reader. Designed to look like a legitimate card slot, Chronicle Live states, that the skimming device copies the magnetic strip details from your card. But the fraudsters still need your ATM PIN code. Fraudsters use hidden cameras to steal the secret code or they “shoulder surf” - someone who stands behind and watches you key in your PIN. Once fraudsters have your card details, they make a clone of the card and proceed to empty your bank account.

So what can you do to prevent becoming a victim of skimming?

  1. If the card reader wiggles or has been attached with glue, don’t use the machine, suggests New York Times.
  2.  PC Mag India cautions users to check for signs of tampering – difference in colour, or material may indicate a skimming device.  The report also suggests ATM users to check the next machine for obvious differences, for example if one card reader shows a sign of where to insert the ATM card while the other machine may have no such sign.
  3. Chronicle Lives warns of a keypad that “feels spongy or unusually spot”. This suggests that the fraudster may have replaced the original keypad with a fake which helps register and steal the user’s PIN code.
  4. Even if there’s no one standing behind you, always use your hand to cover the keypad while you type your ATM PIN, you never know who or what is watching, suggest experts.  

Washington State Department of Financial Institutitons. For more pictures on what ATM skimming device looks like 

But there are also some other precautions you may want to take:

Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. NYT suggests starting another savings account in another bank, so that you will you have back-up money in case the thief empties your account.

Switch to the EMV chip card – considered a safer option than the magnetic stripe card. The RBI had advised banks to issue only chip-based cards from September 2015 keeping in mind fraud in card transactions.

And finally, in the event you do become an unsuspecting victim of skimming, report it to the bank. You will in most cases get your money back. 

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