Remember when the Central Bank of the Philippines required all local banks to come out with EMV ATM cards? Judging by our last article on the subject, that was nearly two years ago.
If I’m not mistaken, today’s ATM’s no longer accept non-EMV cards. This, of course, is a heightened security measure. The old magnetic cards were easy targets for skimmers. All the sensitive information could be swiped from their magnetic strips.
EMV cards, in contrast, make use of one-time encryptions for each transaction. This makes it more difficult for perpetrators to access any of the info on it.
That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, however. To counter the security measures on EMV cards, skimmers have resorted to “shimming.” This involves inserting a paper-thin shim into the slot, thus enabling access to information on the card.
Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to protect yourself. Here are a handful of the simplest and most effective:
- Use your eyes.
- Be alert if something “doesn’t feel right.”
- As much as possible, go for ATM’s in areas with higher foot traffic.
- Cover your hand when typing in your PIN.
- Always monitor your accounts.
Take a good look at the keyboard and card reader before swiping. Does the keyboard look different from the rest of the ATM? Do its keys look slightly bigger?
How about the card reader? Does there appear to be something wedged inside its throat?
If the answer to any of the previous questions is “yes,” notify any nearby authorities. Failing that, move on to a different machine.
Literally. Let’s say the ATM passed the visual test. Great. Now, check if the ATM card reader is a little loose. If so, someone might have placed another card reader on top of the existing one.
You should also be wary if you’re having a hard time inserting your card. The bottomline is, don’t proceed with the transaction if something feels out of the ordinary.
Skimmers typically go for low-hanging fruit. Thus, they tend to target ATM’s in areas that are poorly-lit and are more or less deserted.
Be especially cautious when using non-bank ATM’s too, as these aren’t secured by guards or CCTV’s like their bank branch counterparts.
Thieves and scammers have been known to install tiny cameras beside ATM keypads. Banks typically place guards over these as a deterrent, but it would still be wise to shield your fingers from view when keying in your personal identification number (PIN).
This should really be a given, guys. You don’t have to comb through your debit or credit card statements every day, but you should aim to look them over regularly. This not only allows you to spot any suspicious transactions, but also enables you to catch any potential errors your bank or card issuer may have made.
The truth is, there aren’t really any foolproof ways to avoid skimmers. Heck, EMV cards are supposed to be impervious to existing forms of fraud, and yet, hackers and thieves still managed to find a way around that.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to simply stay informed and alert.