BBB warns consumers of ATM scams

September 21, 2011 (NEWS RELEASE)

Before getting money out at the ATM or filling up your gas tank, the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) advises consumers to take a minute to inspect the machine before swiping a credit or debit card.

According to the ATM Industry Association , card skimming is defined as the unauthorized capture of magnetic stripe information by modifying the hardware or software of a payment device, or through the use of a separate card reader. Once a consumer swipes their card through the fake card reader, their account information is sent to the scammer, leaving the consumer vulnerable to 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.

"Identity theft can happen to you whether you're shopping online or at the mall, making it critical that we all take specific steps to fight both low and hi-tech id thieves," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Chicago and northern Illinois.

To help reduce ATM skimming, The BBB offers the following tips:

Inspect the ATM - Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over standalone ATMs in public places. Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage. Don't hesitate to walk away and use another ATM if something appears out of the ordinary.

Protect your PIN - When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private information from any cameras in the vicinity. Periodically change your PIN.

Monitor your statements - Even the most careful person can fall victim to skimmers. Keep a close eye out for suspicious charges on the itemized breakdown of your accounts. Through your financial institution, you can also sign up for alerts that will notify you when certain types of transaction occur.

Report fraud immediately - Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit and credit cards vary but depend largely on when the fraudulent activity is reported.

Consider using an RFID sleeve Many credit/debit cards and driver's licenses contain RFID chips with personal data. By using this sleeve, you can keep your personal data secure by preventing unauthorized access.

For more information on how to avoid scams, visit

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