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How to Protect Yourself from ATM Card Skimmers

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The fast-moving world we enjoy does save time and makes life easier. But with all of those technological advances and improvements, there will always be those who want to scam and take advantage of people for their own gain. In today’s world, those include data breaches, credit card scams, personal identity theft, as well as ATM fraud.

ATM Skimming Fraud Hits Close to Home
There has been a huge influx in the number of ATM skimmers found on legitimate ATMs across the country. Recently, skimmers were attached to credit union ATMs by less-than-honest people with plans to fraud members out of their card and PIN information. While, the skimmers were found and removed, it’s important to note that ATM skimmers can be found in any community and on any ATM. We want to share some information about what ATM skimming is, how to identify an ATM skimmer, and what to do if you become the victim of an ATM card skimmer scam.

What is an ATM Card Skimmer
An ATM skimmer is a piece of hardware placed on top of the actual ATM. It is designed to look authentic. Usually, these skimmers are placed atop the card insert area of the ATM. Additionally, there is often a new keypad placed atop the real one or a hidden camera so thieves can get your PIN as well.

These skimmers either read the information from the magnetic strip on your card, or they trap your card. If your card is trapped, the screen will tell you that your card has been confiscated and that you should contact your financial institution.

How to Protect Yourself
Being vigilant is the best defense against any kind of scam (both online and in real life). BEFORE inserting your card into any ATM always do the following.

  • Look for legitimate security cameras
  • If using the ATM at night, ensure there is adequate lighting on and around the ATM
  • Pull on and jiggle all of the pieces of the ATM. This includes the card slot, keypad, envelope slot (if there is one) and any other pieces. Nothing on the ATM should move easily. If anything comes loose or jiggles, avoid using the ATM and call the police.
  • If you spot tape or glue on or around the keypad, avoid using the ATM and call the police.
  • If your card is confiscated for no apparent reason, call to deactivate your card immediately.
  • Use smartphone app programs such as the St. Helens Community CardValet® to turn your debit card off quickly.

Use Technology to Your Benefit
If you’re uneasy about a specific ATM, try a different one. At St Helens Community, we give you access to over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs. Just type in your current location to find one near you. There’s even a smartphone app to help you find an ATM in seconds.

Another option is CardValet®. This smartphone app lets you turn your St. Helens Community debit card Off and On, set spending limits and geographic boundaries. In addition, it can send you alerts when your card is used. This means that if your card is taken or your financial information is compromised, you can quickly turn the card off until you are certain things are okay. Learn more about CardValet® here.

What to Do if You are Victimized
If your card is ever confiscated, or you feel you may be a victim of an ATM skimmer scam, call your card issuer immediately. If there is no reason for the card to be confiscated, or you are uneasy about the situation, simply deactivate your card by calling the financial institution that issued the card. If it is a St. Helens Community Visa® debit card, just walk into any branch or call us at 503.397.2376. After hours, call our lost and stolen card line at 1.800.275.6434.

Always Here to Help
If you have any questions or concerns about your financial security, or need help reviewing your current statement or credit report to look for signs of fraud, we are more than happy to help. Stop by or call us at 503.397.2376.

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