How To Protect Yourself From ATM Scams
Ever since I wrote Beware of No Name ATMs, this article has become very popular and I have been contemplating writing on this subject more. Today, I will discuss some more tips you can use to protect yourself from con artists – whether you are in a low-crime country like Canada or travelling in a high-crime foreign country.
Be Always on Alert
While using an ATM machine, always use extra caution and be on alert. If someone bumps into you or tries to talk to you while you are in the middle of a transaction, you need to be careful. Scammers use various techniques to distract you and get away with your bank card – which might be still inside the ATM machine. Let’s look at these scenarios:
Scenario One – Someone Bumps Into You: Con Artist 1 bumps into you and leaves the spot right away. Con Artist 2 appears on the scene and tells you that Con Artist 1 got away with your bank card. Naturally, you will panic and try to pursue Con Artist 1 to recover your card. This is exactly what the Con Artists are hoping for. Your card is still in the machine and once you start chasing Con Artist 1, Con Artist 2 will withdraw all your money easily as you already inputted your password on the machine.
In the above situation, you should remain calm and take out your card from the machine first before chasing anyone. Whenever someone tries to distract you, make sure you have your bank card first before doing anything else.
Scenario Two – Your Card Gets Stuck Inside The ATM: If your card get stuck inside an ATM and a stranger walks up to help you, be very careful. This Con Artist may have tampered with the ATM to make your card get stuck and watched you with a video camera to get your pin. Once you leave the spot to make a phone call to your bank, the Con Artist will withdraw your money as the card is still inside the machine and your password is known to him/her.
Con Artists can play the same game a little differently. Once your card is trapped, a nice person shows up and tries to help you recover your card. He may even give you a few tips to get your card out while entering your PIN. Once you can’t get it out and leave the scene, he will withdraw your money as he has already seen you entering your password.
In a situation like the one above, never accept help from any strangers. Before using any ATM, always make sure the machine is not tampered with in any way. Look for any residue in the card slot, any unusual signs asking to use a different slot or asking you to re-enter your password several times, or anything that does not make sense. If your card gets stuck, try not to leave the machine and call from your cell phone to cancel your card. However, this may not always be possible. Use some common sense-let it be your guideline.
Here is a tip:
Save all the bank and credit card (those you carry) companies’ phone number on your cell phone. This is a very simple thing to do, but regrettably most of us never do it. If you have your bank card provider’s phone number on your cell phone, in the above example, you can just notify them without leaving the ATM machine.