In this digital era and with government insisting upon cash-less transactions, little did we realize that how safe are our dealings, both at ATMs or any other Point Of Sale (POS) terminal, and what needs to be done when sensitive card details are compromised and land in the wrong hands?
There have been a lot of news reports suggesting that several ATMs and POS terminals are hacked by unscrupulous elements, who use powerful skimming devices to capture card data. These data are further used to withdraw cash from ATMs or do transactions using look-alike plastic cards.
So, what is a skimming device? How does it help hackers to capture customer card details?
Skimming devices are small electronic gadgets which can be attached discretely around ATMs or POS terminals to capture the magnetic strip data printed on the back side of debit/credit cards and, for debit cards, in addition to the card details, the secret PIN entered during transaction.
How to identify the skimming devices and how one can safeguard his card details getting compromised at ATMs and POS terminals?
Following tips are worth considered while using ATMs and POS payment terminals:
Skimmers are being frequently planted in bars, restaurants and petrol pumps. So, watch where you shop. Check the surroundings. If you are paying at a retail shop’s checkout or using stand-alone ATMs which are not attached with a bank, you should be very careful.
When you withdraw money or do other transactions at ATMs check the surroundings carefully for any hidden camera focusing on the keypad. Hackers often place camera to capture your PIN or install a keypad on the original keys to capture the strokes. So, when you type your PIN cover the keypad with your hand to prevent cameras recording what you are typing. If you find the keys are hard to press, report the matter to the bank officials and move to other ATM.
It is always better to use ATMs which form part of associated banks which are less likely to be monitored by skimmers as security will be high rather than ATMs at petrol stations or stand-alone types.
Do not reveal your PIN to strangers or seek help at ATMs or POS counters when you find difficulty in doing transaction.
Do not give your card to unknown people in the pretext of card cleaning. They may use your card through a skimmer to extract all relevant information.
By frequently checking your monthly credit card and bank account statements, you can ensure that your card data are safe and not compromised.
Most importantly, by frequently changing your PIN, you can safeguard your card being used by someone else to extract all your hard earned money.
If you think that you are victimized, get in touch with your bank or credit card issuing authority immediately and lodge a complaint to track the criminals.