If any of the recent data is truly indicative of the degree of the problem, it would seem thieves are gaining an edge on the security used to detect skimmers. Skimmers are small devices inserted into the slot of an ATM machine. They are used to record data off a credit card or debit card’s magnetic strip. By also using a tiny, strategically placed camera to record a customer’s pin number as they enter it, thieves can duplicate the card and start using it for purchases and ATM withdrawals.
Some recent data released by FICO Card Alert Services indicates there was a 70% increase in the number of cards compromised by skimmers in 2016. Furthermore, there was a 30% increase in the number of cards that were hacked. These increases are attributed to technological advancements that are making it more difficult to detect skimming devices.
Even more alarming was this comment by T.J. Horan, FICO’s vice president of fraud solutions: “As the last few years have proven, skimming technology and know-how have improved and are more accessible to the general population. So we will continue to see increases in compromises and the speed at which they occur.”
As consumers, there are a few steps we can take to prevent a collective loss of billions of dollars to criminals.
1. Don’t use remote ATMs and point-of-sale terminals in poorly lit, low traffic areas. It’s better to stick with machines at major banks or with major department stores.
2. Try to shake the slot area of a ATM machine before using it. If it wiggles or is lose, tampering may be possible.
3. Use your other hand to protect your pin number from cameras as you enter it.
4. Only use credit and debit cards made with chip technology.
5. Check your card or bank statement frequently. The sooner you catch issues, the sooner you can stop cards and minimize your exposure.