How to Spot a Skimmer
Thieves are more resourceful than ever, and it pays to be extra vigilant when using debit and credit cards. Skimming devices are all-too-easy tools for thieves to capture your card information at places like ATMs, gas station terminals, or even store machines.
Here are some helpful tips to remember now and in the future:
How it works
Skimming devices can be installed in seconds and often go unnoticed by the unsuspecting eye. When you insert your card into the reader with a skimming device attached, the information stored on the card's magnetic strip is recorded. The PIN is then often recorded from the PIN pad or captured by a hidden camera. You think your transaction is processed as usual, but once the thieves retrieve the skimmer and download the data it recorded, criminals can use the stolen information to create counterfeit ATM cards to access the funds in your bank account. Remember that HVCU members are not liable for fraudulent transactions, so we're here to help you prevent unauthorized access to your account, but being vigilant can help protect you even more.
Learn to spot a skimmer
Spotting a skimming device requires diligence, since they're designed to blend in. Please review this short video to learn more. Below are some examples showing an ATM, but consider looking for the same type of devices on other terminals where you use your cards. If you do suspect a skimming device, notify the credit union or the terminal's owner asap to help protect yourself and others for losses.
Types of devices
Be on the lookout for these types of devices designed to steal your card's info:
Card Reader Device
This skimmer usually blends in with the machine it is installed on, and may look very similar to the original card reader in color and texture - even fitting right over top of or inside of the original card reader. Pay close attention to what the reader looks like. A slight tug will usually cause a device to fall off. If the machine's reader is genuine, it often won't budge, so don't worry about harming the machine. The owner of it may thank you if you find something strange!
Typically thieves will also install a concealed camera to record people entering their PIN into the keypad. At an ATM, these could be hidden somewhere on the front of the machine, say at the top of the screen, or around the bezel of the video screen. To capture at other terminals, thieves might use a nearby light fixture, brochure rack, or pole. Always keep a hand over the keyboard as you enter your PIN, which can help prevent a camera from seeing the exact digits you enter.
Sometimes instead of a hidden camera, a fake keypad is used to capture entered PINs. Be on the lookout for the keypads sticking up/out from the surface around it, or for colors that don't match the rest of the ATM. For example, at HVCU ATMs, our keypads are flush with the machine. If you see a raised keyboard, report it to the branch staff immediately or call us at 845.463.3011 so we can investigate.
Whenever possible, compare the terminal you're using to one nearby to see subtle differences. If something appears out of place, a slight tug or movement may show that it doesn't belong.
See something, say something
Like any responsible merchant, HVCU randomly inspects our machines diligently, but you can be another set of eyes for us! If you see something, say something. No concern is too small and can go a long way towards helping protect your fellow members. Either visit the branch staff at the ATM you suspect, call us at 845.463.3011, or live chat with us at hvfcu.org. The sooner we know of your concern, the sooner we can act.