Heritage Bank's top tips to help protect shoppers against skimming devices

Heritage Bank is encouraging people to remain vigilant when using ATMs or paying by card this festive season as scammers set their sights on Christmas shoppers.

Heritage Bank CEO John Minz explained, “For many of us, the use of ATMs and paying by card has become such as regular occurrence that it isn’t usually given a second thought. And it’s this familiarity that many scammers seek to exploit, particularly around peak shopping periods like Christmas.”

“Criminals are getting more technologically savvy using card skimming machines on ATMs or on EFPTOS transactions to steal personal data and money. By simply swiping or inserting their card, people may unknowingly be giving their details to criminals and exposing themselves to financial loss and even identity theft.”

Card skimming involves the copying of information from a card’s magnetic stripe either at ATMs or at point of sale terminals. Scammers place a device over the card slot of an ATM that reads the magnetic stripe as the user passes their card through it. These devices are often used in conjunction with a pinhole camera to read and record the user’s personal identification number (PIN) as it is entered. 

“At Heritage Bank, we are all about supporting and developing our communities. This includes helping to ensure the continued financial security of our customers,” Mr Minz said.

“Most transactions are safe and secure but we encourage people to remain vigilant and on the lookout for any suspicious activity when using ATMs or using credit and debit cards for purchases.”

Don't let a simple action like using an ATM become a way for thieves to get the best of you. Heritage Bank offered some simple tips to help you protect your details and safeguard against skimming devices.

1. Watch out for suspicious people or activity near ATMs.

2. Always check the ATM to see if it for obvious signs of tampering or if any suspicious devices are attached to the card entry point of the machine. Is the card slot is securely in the machine? Is any glue or sticky substance around the key pad or card slot? Has anything been installed around the edges that could conceal a camera?

3. Get into the habit of shielding your PIN with your hand no matter where you are – ATM, shop, restaurant, or taxi. If there is a camera, your PIN can’t be captured if you’re covering it.

4. Check your bank statements for unauthorized or suspicious transactions and report any such activity immediately to your bank, no matter how small the amount.

5. Try not to lose sight of your card when completing purchase transactions. This could give scammers an opportunity to swipe it through a skimming machine. If a shop assistant looks like they are going to take your card out of your sight, ask if it is really necessary.

“If you notice any suspicious activity or if something looks out of place on an ATM, it’s really important to report it to the police and notify your financial institution,” Mr Minz said.

“Christmas is already an expensive time for many of us, let alone if you’re the victim of a fraudster.”

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.