ATM Scam Prevention


Automated Teller machines (ATM’s) have become a part of everyday life and unfortunately there are those individuals within the criminal element of our society that have devised sophisticated methods designed to obtain your personal banking information. The ultimate goal of these individuals is to relieve you of your hard earned money and this information is being provided to increase public awareness regarding ATM scams. The following active “Scams” are being utilized throughout the Country;

“The Loop”: A simple blocking device is inserted into the card slot of the ATM machine in order to trap ATM cards. Unknowingly, a customer places their card into the ATM machine and enters their PIN information, while someone nearby observes and obtains the PIN information.

“Card Skimmers”: Skimmers are devices designed to read and copy the private banking information stored in the magnetic stripe on the back of all ATM bank cards. Skimmers are always attached to or put inside the credit card slot, in order to read and copy your card’s information as it is entered. The skimmer copies your account number, account balance and PIN number. These devices may also be found mounted alongside ATM machines labeled as “card cleaners”.

“Shoulder Surfing”: ATM PIN numbers can also be obtained by mounting a wireless video camera inside the ATM area. Once the victims PIN number has been obtained the suspects either replicate the stolen ATM card or follow the victim, steal the credit or debit card and then go straight to an ATM before the card is cancelled.

“Distraction Theft”: Distraction thefts do not involve the tampering of the ATM machines, they involve interrupting you while you’re withdrawing funds. The distractor may pretend to sell or give you an item, they may tell you that you dropped some money or ask you for a charitable donation. The common thread in all these “scams” is that they occur after you’ve entered your ATM card and PIN number.

In order to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an ATM “Scam” we respectfully recommend the following tips:

  • Avoid Outdoor ATMs: Indoor bank lobby ATMs are typically safe to use because they’re in view of bank employees and they usually have constant camera surveillance.
  • Look for Red Flags: There’s often an indication that the ATM machine may have been tampered; so look for loose, crooked, damaged or scratched ATM’s.
  • Camera Check: Look for additional cameras beyond the basic and obvious ATM security camera.
  • Keep it Secret: Perhaps the simplest way to protect yourself is to shield the PIN pad with one hand when you enter your PIN.
  • Do your Homework. Regularly checking your account balance and bank statements. This will help you spot any discrepancies and you should report any unauthorized charges to your bank.
  • Stay Vigilant: Be aware of your surroundings and be on guard for distractions. Whenever possible have someone you know with you at the ATM so they can alert you regarding approaching persons.

Should you have any questions about the ATM scams or tips listed above, please feel free to contact any member of the Flagler Beach Police Department so we can assist in preventing you from becoming a victim of theft.

Additional information regarding ATM “Scams” can be obtained by visiting the following websites;

ATM Theft: 8 Tips to Protect Yourself From the 5 Most Common ATM Scams