ATM & POS & Skimming

ATM Safety

  1. As always be mindful of your surroundings. Don't select an ATM at the corner of a building - corners create a blind spot. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted, high traffic locations that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.
  2. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby. When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If you are followed or think you are, drive immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business.  If lights around the ATM are not working, don't use that machine.

  3. Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable. There are machines that thieves stick on top of ATM machines called skimmers that steal your banking information.
  4. When using a walk-up ATM, park as close as you can to the machine. Before leaving the safety of your car, check for suspicious persons or circumstances. Have your ATM card ready before you approach the machine.

Skimming Safety

ATMs and gas stations — especially in tourist areas — may have skimming devices. Scammers use cameras, keypad overlays, and skimming devices — like a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader on an ATM or gas pump — to capture the information from your card’s magnetic strip without your knowledge and get your PIN.

What to look out for:

  • Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it…be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
  • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers). 
  • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas…they are a popular target of skimmers.
  • If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

Skimming Prevention Tips:

Turn Cards Off:

You may be able to turn your cards "on" and "off" from your phone. If you suspect your card has been skimmed, you can use the app on your phone to turn the card "off," a setting that denies any requests to use your card. Once the suspicion has passed, if no fraud occurred, you can use the app to turn the card back "on."

This type of switching feature often includes some flexibility. You might turn off the card for online purchases but keep it open for stores. You might also turn the card 'on" for all transactions except ATMs.


Ask your financial institution about pairing geolocation software with your card. This type of feature tracks the location of both your card and phone. When someone attempts a transaction, the card company compares the location of the phone with where the card is being used. If it matches it will let the transaction go through. If the card and phone locations don't match, the card company denies the transaction. This way, if someone steals your card or card information, it would be difficult to make a purchase.

You also may be able to set GPS limits on the card, making it possible to use the card within a certain geographical area, but not outside of it.

Watch Your Statements:

  • Keep a close eye on your credit card statement for purchases you didn't make.
  • Consider monitoring your checking account transactions daily on your financial institution's website.
  • Consider using a notification service. If you put a threshold on your credit or debit card when using such a service, you will get an alert if someone charges something over that amount. For instance, if you set a limit of $1,000, you'll be notified if someone attempts to spend $1,500 with the card. Typically, under the account services tab, you'll be able to change the notifications. Most financial institutions and credit card issuers offer this feature, but if you don't see it, contact the financial institution and ask if notifications can be set up.
  • Ask for a "card not present transaction" notification. If someone tries to use your credit or debit card number online, you'll be notified immediately.

Chip Enabled:

EMV, which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, refers to a standard for cards equipped with computer chips. Rather than swiping the card, as you would for a card with a magnetic stripe, you insert the card into a terminal slot during a transaction and then remove it once the transaction is complete.

One of the biggest perks of EMV cards involves a higher level of security. Unlike the magnetic stripe on a card, which contains data that remains the same, EMV cards change with each transaction.

EMV cards are a great solution to the problem with skimming because they produce unique, 1-time tokens that a hacker can't reproduce. They're basically impossible to predict, and they don't work for more than 1 transaction. So, if a hacker is able to get your card number and clone the card, he or she can't use it at a retailer that accepts EMV.

Also, EMV cards don't significantly improve security for online purchases, nor does the technology work when the ATM or point-of-sale terminal hasn't been upgraded, like at many gas stations, for example.