Advice & Planning


ATM and Debit Card Fraud PreventionTips

Your debit card is a convenient and smart way to make purchases, manage your money and keep a budget. However, a recent increase in fraudulent schemes and theft means that card and ATM safety is more important than ever when it comes to protecting your money and personal information. To help safeguard your account and personal information, check out these useful ATM and Debit fraud prevention tips.

1.Location, location, location

Protecting yourself from ATM fraud can be as easy as avoiding certain remote ATMs and point of sale devices. These free-standing ATMs, which are often found in low-trafficked and poorly lit areas outside of grocery stores and bodegas, are most vulnerable to being tampered with by thieves. Similarly, self-serve gas pumps that accept credit cards at stations are known to have high instances of tampering.

It may be a bit out of the way when you’re out and about, but the safest ATMs you can use are always the ones located in the vestibules of a financial institutions that require a card to gain access.

2. Check the ATM for tampering

ATM skimming has become an increasing threat to cardholders. According to, theft from ATM skimming is approaching $1 billion annually and Javelin estimates that one in five people have been hit by an ATM skimmer.

Before using an ATM or point-of-sale terminal, take a good look at the keypad and card slot and check to see if anything is loose or out of place. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs additionally recommends checking for keypads that appear raised or have an unusual color. A thief could have placed an overlay on the keypad to record the personal identification number you punch in.

It’s important to also note that some gas pumps have security tape that forms a seal around the card reader. If the seal is broken, it could mean the reader has been compromised.

When in doubt, don’t use the device.

3. Protect your PIN

Always shield the screen and keypad when entering your PIN or transaction amount. In addition to threat of “shoulder surfers”, or individuals trying to get a glimpse of your personal information from over your shoulder, thieves are increasingly installing pinhole cameras on or near ATMs and point-of-sale devices to record the information input.

Cardholders can also easily protect their PIN information by memorizing it so that they never have to write it down. When selecting a PIN, it’s strongly recommended to avoid numbers and letters that relate to your personal information and can be easily guessed. For example, don't use your initials, birthday, telephone or Social Security number.

4. Stay vigilant to those around you

It’s important to stay mindful of the people around you before beginning an ATM transaction. In addition to traditional thieves, shoulder surfers may hang around ATMs with the intention of stealing your personal information. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. As an extra precaution when using an enclosed ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting strangers follow you inside.

If anyone does follow you after you’ve completed a transaction, go to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police.

5. Check your transactions

Take time to regularly examine your bank account activity online to see whether funds have been withdrawn that you didn't authorize. As an additional precaution, you should hold on to your ATM receipts and check them against your monthly statement. You can also set up alerts so that you're notified when funds are withdrawn.

6. Immediately report a lost or stolen card to your financial institution

If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, be sure to contact your financial institution and report it immediately. Acting fast limits your liability for charges you didn’t authorize. Once you report the loss of your ATM or debit card, federal law says you cannot be held liable for unauthorized transfers that occur after that time.

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