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5 ATM Scams and How to Avoid Them!

Ashley here with AllClear ID.  Your ATM card is one of the quickest ways a thief can commit identity theft – and wipe out your bank account!  Here are some of the most common types of ATM scams:

  1. Skimmer– This scam involves a device that is installed into an ATM that can read your account information including your account number, PIN and balance. Usually these skimmers can hold up to 200 accounts worth of information at a time.
  2. Shoulder Surfing– This low-tech scam involves observation techniques or some crafty tactics. Some thieves install a fake keypad on top of a real one to record account information and pin numbers. To capture more useable data to access someone’s account, they will also install a camera to record all other information – like your card number.
  3. Cash Trapping– A crook installs something to block the cash from dispensing out of an ATM machine. A customer will then go inside the bank for help and will return to find the cash stolen by a thief.
  4. “Lebanese Loop”– This type of financial identity theft is one of the simplest and becoming increasingly common. An identity thief installs a metal or plastic strip into the ATM card slot. The card goes in normally and the transaction to withdraw money moves along as it should. However, once it is complete and the card tries to eject, the loop prevents it from ejecting and the cash is not dispensed. As in the cash trapping scam, the customer walks into the bank to complain, while the thief removes the loop and has access to your bank account and cash.
  5. Phishing– An oldie but goodie that has had a resurgence this year with millions of lost email addresses.  Phishing for your bank information occurs when a scammer sends an e-mail to a customer pretending to be a bank representative requesting you to update account information. The thief then uses this information to replicate an ATM card or withdraw money from a customer account via online banking.

What you can do: The best way to prevent ATM fraud is to monitor your bank accounts and only use ATMs that have security cameras. It is also important that you never leave your card in an ATM, even if it is only to inform the bank of a problem. Instead, you should call the bank and tell them you are at the ATM and there is a problem with your card. This will keep your account safe and identity protected until help comes to you.

Update 6/13/2011: We only had 5 scams listed and the blog was entitled “6 ATM scams…”.  Now we have #6 From a fan on our Facebook page: “The best ATM scam I have heard of involves using the default ATM machine admin keypress sequence to reprogram a machine the hasn’t been set up properly. The thief sets the bill face value to a low amount, then accomplices withdraw amounts that end up showing up as less than what they are worth: the machine thinks it is spitting out 5’s when it is still 20’s. It is like a stupid tax on lazy ATM owners.”

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