Checking an ATM for signs of card skimmers–devices that steal your information by recording your PIN number and card information–should be priority number one when using an ATM.
But, according to Krebs on Security, that’s getting a lot harder to do.
Skimmers are incredibly thin, and some can even be installed in the “throat” of the card reader slot. This makes them practically impossible to see, unless you want to dismantle the machine itself.
The United States is one of the few countries that still uses magnetic stripes rather than the more secure “chip and PIN” system used in Europe. The chip and PIN system makes it harder to duplicate cards thanks to its higher cost.
So how do you protect yourself from ATM skimmers? Just use your hands. Most card skimmers have built-in spy cameras that record your PIN as you enter it. If you cover your hand when entering your PIN, you could prevent most skimmers from reading the code.
Of course, that’s not a foolproof solution to the problem of skimmers. Some involve unnoticeable PIN pad overlays, which basically replace the ATM’s real keypad with a fake one that records your information. But it’s one way to stop the majority of card skimmers from gathering information that could give them unwanted access to your bank account.