(ModernSurvival.org) – Fraud is on the rise in the United States. In 2022, consumers reported nearly $9 billion in losses to these crimes, a 30% increase from the previous year. Fraudsters are constantly upping their game, seeking new ways to scam unsuspecting victims out of their money.
New ATM Scam Making Waves
Automated teller machine (ATM) fraud isn’t anything new. Thieves have used these machines to steal debit card numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs) for years. In the past, these scams included counterfeit devices and false card readers. Technology has advanced, and with it, so too have ATM machines and the tactics swindlers use.
With the addition of the ‘tap feature’ to ATMs, which uses radio waves to access your bank account and eliminates the need to insert a debit card, scammers have found a new way to steal from innocent people.
How the Scam Works
Crafty thieves have found a way to force users to tap their cards instead of inserting them into the machine by gluing the slot shut. When the victim finds their card isn’t working, a “helpful stranger” often suggests they tap it. Once the transaction is complete, the unfortunate person goes about their day only to find their bank account drained.
The problem is once the transaction is complete, the user must manually close the transaction window, or it stays open, leaving it accessible to the next person in line — the stranger who offered to help. At this point, they’re free to make additional withdrawals at the account owner’s expense. While each transaction requires the user to input the PIN, the fraudster will either watch the user put it in or record the action with a hidden camera.
How to Avoid Being Scammed at the ATM
To avoid the helpful stranger scam, wait until the screen asks if you want to do something else, then click no. This will close the session and ensure the scammer cannot make additional withdrawals. Also, be sure to enter your PIN discreetly so no one else can observe the numbers. Here are some more tips to avoid being scammed at the ATM:
- Double-check the magnetic reader before inserting or swiping your card to ensure it isn’t a fake device. If the reader looks loose, damaged, or otherwise suspicious, find a different ATM.
- Don’t use the machine if the keys on the keypad feel thick or difficult to push. Scammers install false fronts on keypads to record PINs as they’re entered.
- Hide your PIN as you enter it. This can be as simple as covering the keystrokes with your other hand. Without the PIN, any card data a thief obtains is useless.
- Avoid non-bank ATMs, as these are used for skimming more often.
- Check your accounts regularly for unauthorized withdrawals.
- Sign up for alerts if your banking institution offers them.
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of an ATM scam, contact your bank immediately. They can block your card and ensure the scammer can’t steal more money. You can also report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local law enforcement office.
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