By Melissa Locker
December 09, 2019
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images

We've all been warned about the risks of credit card skimmers—those devious little devices that scammers attach to ATMs and gas station pumps to steal credit card information—so how do you know if your ATM is safe to use? WTVM News Leader 9 via Woman's Day, just released a helpful guide that we can all use to help prevent sneaky scammers from making off with our credit card information.

Skimmers make it easy for criminals to get both credit card information and PINs while we are simply trying to go about our days. Scammers take that information and use it for their own nefarious purposes (and purchases) racking up charges that require hours of fighting with credit card companies to get reversed. In 2015, credit card fraud in the U.S. alone topped $8.45 billion, while global credit card fraud losses hit a stunning $21.84 billion. Clearly, it's a huge problem (and those fancy chip cards may not help).

Luckily, there are ways to check for credit card skimmers. Those sneaky gadgets are attached to ATMs or gas station pumps right where you put your credit card into the machines, so the first step is to look closely at the credit card slot. Look for obvious signs of tampering, like loose pieces or stray wires, and check to see if there is perhaps a tiny camera pointed at the keypad (that's one way scammers can get your PIN). Then, give a gentle tug to the area around where you swipe your card. If nothing shimmies or moves, the ATM might be safe, that said it's a good idea to always cover the keypad with your hand or wallet when you enter your code, even if you don't see a camera. This is not a foolproof method, of course, but it certainly can't hurt to check out the ATM before putting your card in the machine and potentially putting yourself at risk for fraud.

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Finally, be sure to regularly monitor your account balance online and look for irregular activity. If you spot something suspicious, immediately report it to the bank so they can limit the damage, get you a new bank card, and reverse the charges.

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