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How to Protect Your ATM/Debit Card from ATM Skimming

In today’s fast-paced world, almost everyone is in a hurry to complete daily and weekly tasks, including getting “fast cash” from an ATM to quickly filling up their tanks at the gas station. Using an ATM/Debit Card makes these errands quick and easy.

While an ATM/Debit Card is designed to make our lives more convenient, ATMs have increasingly become a target for criminals. ATM skimming is one of the ways criminals commit fraud with your ATM/Debit Card and steal your information.

According to Bankrate.com, theft from ATM skimming is approaching $1 billion annually. Below is more information about ATM Skimming and tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of ATM skimming.

What Is ATM Skimming? Criminals attach devices onto ATM machines in order to copy an ATM/Debit Card number, the information encoded on the magnetic strip and even the Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Risk Reduction and Protection

  • Inspect the ATM Before Use Before you use an ATM, take a moment to examine the machine. Does anything look out of place or not original? Is there anything taped to the machine? Do some parts look loose or in a different color (for example, the ATM is silver and the card slot is black)? Is there a brochure rack or other promotional materials on the ATM or near the machine that seem out of place? Are there mirrors on the ATM? If you find anything that looks suspicious, don’t use the ATM.
  • Recognize a Skimming Device Many skimming devices are stuck onto the machine or near the ATM with two-sided tape or even Velcro. Some skimming devices are inserted into the ATM (in the card slots). Once it is loaded, wireless cameras are often attached to the ATM key pad. This is how criminals capture not only the ATM/Debit Card number, but the PIN as well. Once this information is obtained, criminals can reproduce a fraudulent ATM card and begin withdrawing funds from the account.
  • Protect your PIN, Your Card and Your Account Don’t share your PIN with anyone. Be sure to cover the screen and the key pad when you’re using your PIN.If your card is not returned after you completed your transaction or after pressing cancel, immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card and report the incident.Always check your monthly statements to ensure there are no unusual withdrawals.

 

What is Identity Theft?

It’s likely that you have heard about it a lot lately. Recent government statistics show that more than 7 million adults were victims of identity theft last year. That equals 19,178 people a day, 700 per hour, or 13.3 a minute, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, California. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that identity theft is the number one source of consumer complaints and costs the average victim more than $1,000 to recover their identity.

Identity theft is a crime in which someone takes your personal information (such as your name or social security number) in an effort to steal from your existing accounts, open fraudulent accounts in your name, or obtain a loan using your credit history.

How to Prevent Identity Theft!

Unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone, even you. The easiest way to control identity theft is to prevent it from happening. Here are some tips to reduce the likeliness of becoming a victim:

  • Monitor all of your accounts and statements consistently and carefully
  • Review your credit report at least once a year
  • Shred or destroy any documents that contain your personal information prior to throwing them in the garbage
  • Never carry your social security card in your wallet or use your social security number on checks or identification cards, such as a driver’s license or membership card
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards, checks or other personal information immediately
  • Don’t leave your mail in an unsecured mailbox

The FTC provides an overview of identity fraud and suggestions on ways to protect your personal information.

What To Do if You Suspect You’re A Victim of Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity theft, there are three steps you should take immediately!

  1. Contact any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. Ask them to place a 90-day Fraud/Security Alert on your account, which will require any company seeking to extend credit on your account to request additional identification and/or contact you for verification. Placing an alert with any of the credit bureaus will automatically create an alert at all three bureaus, and each will send you a free copy of your credit report within 7-10 days.
  2. Contact all of your financial institutions and creditors to make them aware of the situation. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or were opened fraudulently.
  3. Call your local police or sheriff’s department and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or (877) ID-THEFT.

 

Phishing

“Phishing” is a high-tech internet scam where individuals receive emails from sources falsely claiming to be legitimate companies in an attempt to obtain personal and financial information. The scams usually begin with an email telling you that you urgently need to address/update a matter in one of your financial accounts. In a recent report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a trade association that includes law enforcement officials, showed huge growth in phishing scams. From November 2003 to April 2004, email attacks reported to the group jumped from 28 to 1,125 per month. It has been reported that 57 million Americans were exposed to phishing attacks last year.

Here are some tips to help avoid being a phishing victim:

  • Watch carefully for high-pressure emails urging you to disclose personal financial information or to start making financial transactions at a new web site page
  • Make sure you only conduct web transactions on a secure page, with “https” in the address line. The “s” means secure
  • Watch for suspicious web site addresses that are not the same ones you’ve been using. If you have any doubt, close your browser, reopen it and go to the address you’ve used before
  • Review statements from financial institutions carefully for any unauthorized activity
  • Keep your browser and operating system software up-to-date
  • Report any suspicious activity immediately

Other Phishing Fraud

PayPal and eBay phishing emails – these emails ask for account information to “verify” recent account activity, some may include legitimate looking warnings of possible fraudulent purchases

The FTC provides information on “phishing” and how it works.

Online Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns computer users about pop-up windows, phony web sites and fraudulent emails that attempt to trick you into revealing confidential personal and/or financial information. These scams usually involve a pop-up window or email link directing you to a fraudulent web site that looks legitimate. Once you’re redirected, you’re asked for personal and private financial information that is then in turn used to commit fraud.

What is a Pop-Up Window? This is generally an ad that appears in small browser windows that “pop-up” over or under the window you are viewing. Most pop-ups are simply advertisements, some may also contain “Trojan horse”* programs similar to a computer virus.

Phony Web Sites A phony, or fraudulent, web site usually resembles a legitimate financial institution or other trusted organization. These sites use an organization’s web site graphics and logos; however, they designed and set up in an attempt to steal your personal information. A common technique to tempt you to a fraudulent web site is through “spam”** email.

Here are some tips to help protect your First Financial accounts and personal information from fraudulent pop-up ads and phony web sites:

  • Purchase and install pop-up blocking software on your personal computer
  • Use an internet search engine, such as Google or Yahoo!, to search for the terms “adaware” or “spyware”
  • Avoid downloading files from unknown sources
  • Research any software completely before downloading it to your personal computer
  • Use the latest security software on your personal computer
  • Avoid clicking on links provided in a suspicious email
  • Save or “bookmark” frequently visited web sites to your list of favorites and then access these sites through your saved links

*“Trojan horse” – A destructive program that masquerades as a benign application. Unlike viruses, Trojan horses do not replicate themselves but they can be just as destructive. One of the most dangerous types of a Trojan horse is a program that claims to rid your computer of viruses but instead introduces viruses onto your computer.

**“Spam” – Unsolicited “junk” email sent to large numbers of people to promote products or services

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