Even if you’re cautious about which ATMs you use or stores you shop at, you could still become a victim of identity theft. ATM skimming is a growing problem and the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona recommends that consumers take steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
There are a number of ways thieves steal a Personal Identification Number (PIN). In some cases, thieves or accomplice employees can swap out the entire PIN pad with one that captures data. Once a consumer swipes their card through the fake card reader, their account information is sent to the scammer, leaving the consumer vulnerable to I.D. theft. In addition, thieves may use hidden cameras attached near a machine to record the consumer’s hand movements to obtain their personal identification number.
“Beware of suspicions looking individuals, or devices that may have been tampered with,” said Kim States, BBB President. “Always be on the look out for strange activity on your account and check it regularly.”
Consumers who use bank cards are encouraged to monitor their statements, report suspicious account activity and change debit-card PIN numbers and other account security settings.
BBB recommends the following ways to fight identity thieves when using a debit or credit card:
- Protect your PIN – When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits. False keypads placed over the real keypad are also a way scammers get PIN numbers so if the keypad looks different, move on.
- Keep an eye on your statements – The most vigilant person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, and it’s important to always keep a close eye on your accounts—particularly the itemized breakdown of charges and debits—so that you can quickly report any suspicious activity on your account.
- Report fraud immediately – Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit cards vary but depend largely on when you report the fraudulent activity and sooner is always better. If you wait too long to report the fraud, your bank account could be cleaned out and your bank may not reimburse you.
For more advice on fighting identity theft and preventing fraud, visit www.tucson.bbb.org