5 Tips for Staying Safe from ATM Skimmers

By Amber Britton

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Photo credit: Ciaran McGuiggan / Foter / CC BY

ATM skimmers are on the rise here on Long Island. We want all of you to be savvy shoppers when you’re out in the world. To help you stay safe while enjoying your summer, we want to prepare you with some tips on what to look for.

Your first question may be, what exactly is a skimmer? An ATM skimmer is a device that steals all of your personal information, right from your debt cards. There are a few ways they can do this.

  • A device can be put on the card slot to read and copy all of your personal information when you insert your card. Remember, all of your personal data is stored in that magnetic strip.

    Photo credit: ThisIsntExeter / Foter / CC BY


  • Camera’s may be placed on the ATM so they can record your PIN when you enter it.
  • A fake keypad may be put on the machine so that it records your PIN as you enter.

    Photo credit: catatronic / Foter / CC BY-SA


These skimmers can be placed on any ATM. So while you may be leery of the ATM on wheels at your local deli, you should be equally as leery of your major bank’s ATM. People are usually more confident using their bank’s ATM to withdraw money, thinking it’s safer. What better place for a thief to strike?

So what can you do to stay safe? Is anywhere sacred!? The answer is no, nowhere is completely safe. But if you follow our 5 tips, you will be in great shape for protecting your identity and your money.

  1. Cover up when entering your PIN. Put your hand over the numbers so that if a camera is nearby, it can’t see what you are entering. This is especially true if someone is in line behind you and is standing a little too close. Do they not realize you need your personal space? Back up!
  2. Look at the card entry slot before putting in your card. Does it look a little funny? Try giving it a tug and see if it loosens or comes off. If it does, obviously do NOT put your card in there. Alert the manager of the bank or business that the ATM is located in and go somewhere else to get your money.
  3. Pay attention to the feel of entering your PIN. Does it feel difficult to enter your PIN, as if there is resistance? Is the keypad moving? Could be a false keypad. Be safe and try somewhere else.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let some random person help you with a machine that they say isn’t working correctly. Be on the lookout for people just hanging out by a machine. Try finding a machine near a security camera where someone is less likely to try to mess with it.
  5. Check your bank statements. We cannot say this enough. Just check them! Every few days, or once a week at minimum, log into your bank’s website and check out your purchase history. Make sure everything is a purchase you’ve actually made. See something fishy? Call your bank and let them know right away.

Banks aren’t the only place that can be affected. Be on the lookout at gas stations, another common place for skimmers. Most gas pumps now have a sticker that, if broken, indicates tampering. Keep your eyes open!


One response to “5 Tips for Staying Safe from ATM Skimmers

  1. Pingback: This Savvy Student Says Goodbye | The Savvy Student @ SBU·

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