It’s 1:24am. You’re drunk, staggering down the street, and need some cash to keep the buzz going.
Rummaging through your pocket, you find your ID, your bank card, and $12.75 in loonies and quarters (because bartenders hope you’ll leave the coins as a tip in disgust).
You know that the nearest location for your bank is too far to walk and you’re across the street is a club you know could keep your buzz going all night long. But there’s a $20 cover.
Your solution is the shady looking ATM next door. Harmless right? Nuh uh. That was your first mistake.
I’ve made this exact mistake about 15 times in the past year, each time resulting in CIBC freezing my account for suspicion of ATM fraud. The security in-place is fine, but it’s such a hassle to have to get a new card. My biggest peeve is having to re-remember my bank card # for when I do online banking. And I hate remembering numbers.
I’ve had hundreds of dollars taken out of my account on two separate occasions. It happens to millions worldwide, and chances are if you’re reading this blog, it’s happened to you at one point.
For example, to the left is a really ghetto looking ATM.
Ok, maybe harmless isn’t the word for this ATM that the local community left a paint induced hell dump on. I mean if you’re going to attach a money stealing device onto an ATM, at least choose one that doesn’t look like a Chinese delivery truck.
But amateur tagging aside, this plain looking ATM has a skimmer attached to the card insertion slot, has a pin hole camera facing downwards to watch you type in your secret code, and will automatically send an SMS to the fraudster that you just gave up your piggy bank up to him/her. Jackpot for the crackpot.
If you’d like to read more about how ATM skimmers work and the technicalities behind it, read this up-to-date write up on Would You Have Spotted the Fraud. And while the evil technology continues to put our existing security systems at risk, the information on this article is dated from late December of last year. So this’ll keep you in the know for now.
Now, I’m not here to alarm you, nor am I here to add another item to your list of things to keep you hiding under your bed. But it’s important everyone knows that when it comes to ATMs, there’s more than meets the eye. And knowing is half the battle.
But Wait! Did I just use the Transformers and the GI Joe PSA slogan, together? Oh yes I did! You know what that means: It’s time to bust out a GI Joe Public Service Announcement!
I’m pretty sure most of you don’t really need these tips. They’re a tad straight forward. But from one victim to another, we could all share a few tips here and there. Just remember: by claiming you are an expert at something, forfeits your ability to learn.
Reggie’s Tips to Avoid Getting Your Salad Tossed by a Fraudster1. Get a card with a chip in it. It helps.
2. Cover your PIN entry from all angles. Skimmers have pin hole cameras looking downwards from the card slot.
3. Change your PIN regularly. I suggest monthly.
4. Stick to using your bank’s ABMs, indoors if possible.
5. It’s always smart to carry a $20 bill as back up just in case. This prevents you from having to bite the bullet and using your debit card on a shady ATM or gas station. And don’t spend it on stupid things like a bag of chips.
6. If you can, stay away from using your debit card anywhere. I’ve had friends who’ve had their card duped from convenience stores to Shoppers Drug Marts. Just cause it’s a corporate franchise doesn’t mean it can’t happen there.