Beware Of Bogus ATM's

Did you know that you can buy an ATM on eBay or Craigslist for as little as a few hundred dollars? Credit Unions might be in the market for one of these machines as they may be a bargain but crooks can also decide that these machines are a good investment to be used to steal personal account information from innocent members.

Once an ATM is in the hands of a fraudster, they simply rewrite the code on these machines and place it where it can be used by innocent victims. When a person accesses the ATM, inputting their card and PIN, most machines will display an error message that says it is "temporarily out of order". Some machines might even dispense cash up to a small dollar amount but the fraudsters feel this investment is small potatoes compared to what can be stolen once they have personal information to start stealing from member accounts.

Finding a good location to put these ATM's may be difficult but many have been found in gas station parking lots or outside shopping centers. For a fraudster, the risk of being caught on a surveillance camera and setting up an ATM exists but again this risk may be minimized if the fraudster does it discreetly (possibly late at night) or he may be in cahoots with the store manager who might feign knowledge if and when confronted.

Much has been written on how ATM's can be compromised as crooks put skimmers over the card readers to suck up data and record PIN numbers with miniature cameras. Some fraudsters don't bother with the ATM at all but instead put the skimmer on the key card lock of the door that leads into an ATM and from this, they can steal personal data.

If CU's have good security procedures and video surveillance in place, card skimmers can be detected fairly quickly. Still, members need to be smart and use good awareness when accessing an ATM to withdraw cash. That means we all should:
  • Be wary of any stand-alone ATM. Obviously there are plenty of legitimate ones, but look around and be suspicious of an ATM that isn't bolted to the side of a building or secured inside a facility. A legitimate ATM is heavy and not easy to move. Also, beware of stand-alone ATMs that advertise "no fees," since most legitimate owners of stand-alone ATMs have to charge fees to make money.
  • Avoid ATMs if the access door or any part of the machine is broken. If the lock on the door to the room accessing the machine is broken, beware and don't use the machine. A fraudster may have forced open the door to install a skimming device.
  • Beware of "out of service" signs. If your ATM has a "out of service" sign, it could be legitimate -- or it could be trying to get you to use another nearby ATM that had been compromised.
  • Give the card slot a good yank. Push on the slot where your card goes in and see if it gives way. If the machine has a skimmer, it will often move or appear loose. If the card slot looks strange at all, find another ATM.
  • Report "malfunctions" immediately. If you get an error message instead of money, contact your financial institution immediately.
  • Access your account on line and monitor your transaction activity. Take a few minutes every week to log onto your accounts and review your transactions. Report bogus transactions immediately.

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