It’s happening a lot more often than people are catching it. Identity thieves are attaching card skimmers to ATMs and gas pumps, stealing the bank account information of every person who visits afterward. Some card users might be worried they’ll break a real machine if they check for a skimmer too roughly, but police say, that would be hard to do. “Don’t use a tire iron, but you can go up and just pull on it.” We’re suggesting everybody do their own check before using a similar machine.
“You’re not going to damage or destroy an ATM by pulling on it and checking to make sure there’s nothing wrong with it.” Affixing the skimmer too tightly would take extra time, and the thief generally wants to put this on in a matter of seconds.
Police say pulling on the card reader should be part of every person’s banking or gas pumping routine. Before you put in your card, give a good yank on the area immediately around the slot. If there’s a skimmer, you should be able to pull it off with just your hand alone, no tools necessary.
If you’re still not sure, look around the immediate area for a camera pointing at the key pad. It’s going to be small- a lot smaller than a typical surveillance camera- and it might be hidden in a not so obvious spot.
Identity thieves can use your card numbers a lot more effectively if they also have your pin or the zip code you’re typing in, so always cover the pad while you’re typing, even if no one else appears to be around.
There are as many different types of card skimmers as machines to blend in with, so there’s no one thing to look for. Physically pulling on them is the only way to know for sure.