Protect Yourself from ATM Scams

Over the years, you may have grown wary of strangers hovering near an ATM who might be trying to look over your shoulder to steal your account number and PIN. You might even make it a habit to shield the keypad from view as you enter your PIN. These are still safe practices, but identity thieves have become much more savvy and more sophisticated in how they steal your information and money.

Here are a few of the ways thieves can steal your account numbers and PINs at the ATM that you may be surprised to learn:

  • Although not a new technology, “skimmers” are still used by thieves to steal your account numbers. The device fits over the ATM card reader so that when you slide your card into the ATM, the skimmer reads your account number and retains it for the thief.
  • A pinhole camera is installed to record your motions as you enter your PIN.
  • A fake keyboard overlays the real keyboard to capture your PIN.
  • Wireless technology may transmit account numbers and PINs to the thief, who no longer must return to the ATM to retrieve the devices containing the stolen information.

While the vast majority of ATMs are safe, you should exercise your new awareness of the tricks identity thieves employ when using an ATM. If you use certain ATMs on a regular basis, become familiar with how they look and feel so that you can spot any differences. When approaching an unfamiliar ATM, take a look at the card reader and keypad. Since the devices are placed over the originals, they may look odd when closely examined.

Finally, if you believe you have been scammed, report the scam immediately to law enforcement and to the credit union or bank where you have your account. If you believe an account you have with VSECU has been compromised, call 802/800 371-5162 during regular business hours. After hours, call 1-800-523-4175 for a debit card account and 1-800-257-2743 for a credit card account.

For more information on skimming, view this article on