7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Skimming and Shimming

atm machine

Many consumers are familiar with the practice of skimming. This theft crime involves installing a reader device on ATMs so fraudsters can use that information to steal your information and your money. Today, there is a newer form of theft that is called shimming. This works very similarly, except that shimmers read the chip data, not the data on the magnetic strip.

According to FICO, this type of fraud increased by 10 percent in 2017, the last year data is available for. That’s bad news for victims of this crime because it can lead to things such as lawsuits filed by debt collectors, wage garnishment, and more. These machines don’t only target bank cards, either. Many consumers use credit cards at ATMs to take out cash advances or pay for things such as parking. So, how can you protect you and your cards from these devices? Follow the steps below.

1. Look at All Machines Closely Before Using

Before you insert your card into any machine, whether it is an ATM or a point of sale machine, take a good look at it. If there’s another machine beside the one you’re using, it’s a good idea to compare the looks of both machines. Does the one you’re using look differently than the other? Are the graphics aligned correctly? Does the keypad feel too thick? If so, it may have a PIN-stealing overlay. If one does have differences that stand out to you, don’t use either of them and find another ATM to use.

2. Feel All Machines Before Using

If you don’t see any differences or anything that looks odd to you, it’s time to start feeling around the machine. ATMs are built fairly sturdy and generally don’t have a lot of loose parts. The keyboard should be in one piece and securely attached, and there shouldn’t be any loose or moving parts on the card reader. If there is, it may be because someone has installed a card skimmer or shimmer within it.

Also, while inserting your card, move it back and forth a little bit. This will allow the machine to read the information on your card, but skimmers require the card to be inserted in a smooth, single motion. It’s important to understand that this tactic will not work on machines that keep your card for the entire transaction because the reader is on the inside of the machine. Due to the fact that shimmers are also installed directly inside machines, this tactic also won’t protect you from those devices.

3. Protect Your PIN

Of course, the best way to protect your credit card or your bank card from thieves is to protect your PIN. Some fraudsters use overlays to obtain your PIN and, if that’s the case, unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to protect it. An overlay makes an impression of the numbers in your PIN as soon as you enter them. However, if criminals have used the device in conjunction with a camera, this trick will work.

When entering your PIN into a machine, cover the keypad with one hand while you enter your number. This is always a good policy, whether you are paying for a purchase in a cashier’s line or using an ATM machine.

4. Use a Machine in the Right Location

It’s also important to know which machines criminals are most likely to target. Sometimes it can take a bit of time to install the skimming or shimming devices onto machines. As such, they don’t often choose machines that are in busy locations or places where there is video surveillance, such as in banks. Thieves are often very creative and skilled at what they do, and can sometimes even install skimmers on point of sale machines within just seconds. However, most of the time they will choose an out of the way location where there aren’t a lot of people. Keep this in mind and only use machines that are in well-populated areas.

5. Choose the Right Day

Even using a machine on the wrong day of the week could make you more susceptible to being the victim of a crime. Thieves often install skimming and shimming devices on weekends because the banks are closed so consumers can’t report the theft right away. They then remove the devices before the bank reopens on Monday so the bank doesn’t notice them.

6. Use Digital Pay

Whenever possible, use digital pay services such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. These payment methods tokenize your credit card information, meaning that your personal information is never exposed. Digital data is not only very difficult to intercept, but even if someone is able to do it, the information they’ll retrieve will be essentially useless to them.

7. Remain Aware

The most important way to safeguard yourself against thieves and criminals is to remain aware at all times. Review your bank and credit card statements regularly, and make sure you recognize all transactions. If not, someone has your information and is using it to drive you further into debt. As long as you notice the suspicious transactions and alert your lender or bank to them as soon as possible, it’s often very easy to recover the funds.

Also, make sure that you sign up for fraud detection programs. In these programs, your bank or creditor will alert you when there is suspicious activity. In most cases, they won’t even allow the transaction to go through unless you verbally approve it.

Were You a Victim of Fraud? Call a Florida Debt Defense Attorney

If you’ve been a victim of fraud, it could hurt more than your bank account. It could affect your reputation and your credit score, particularly if a creditor decides to file a lawsuit against you for a debt you didn’t incur. Fraud can provide a valid defense for these lawsuits, but you must contact a Fort Lauderdale debt defense attorney who can effectively argue them. At Loan Lawyers, we are committed to helping individuals that are struggling with debt and can provide valid defenses if a creditor has taken action against you. Call us today at (954) 523-HELP (4357) or contact us online for your free consultation.