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ATM Crime: How to Help Prevent it

Skimming, vandalism and physical attacks on ATMs, armored car and cash-in-transit (CIT) personnel, ATM technicians and other ATM crimes are all on the rise throughout the U.S. Learn steps you can take to protect your credit union.

Contributed by: Joe Woods, SVP Marketing & Partnerships, Dolphin Debit

For a criminal, the ATM has always presented an open environment with multiple escape routes. Criminals can be very adept at approaching the ATM and making it appear that they are conducting typical business. But in reality, they can be placing devices on the ATM to capture card and pin data.

The exact numbers are hard to come by, but some reports indicate these attacks on ATMs and personnel have increased by 50% over the past three years. In one high profile case, an armored car driver was killed during a September delivery by two attackers, both of whom have been arrested and charged.

All attacks on ATMs and personnel are serious threats, and while no one can prevent every incident, there are things banks can do to help reduce the threat.

Here are four tips that you can put into action immediately for your own ATM fleet:

  • If you have branch staff loading external ATMs (or ATMs that are not loaded from inside the branch), vary the day of the week and time of day that they travel to the ATM. Being too consistent and routine in your load cycle makes staff an easy target.
  • If you are concerned with having staff loading your external ATMs, contact the armored car or CIT company currently providing your branch cash and ask for pricing and the documents for ATM replenishment. Even if you don’t make the change immediately, having the necessary pricing and paperwork can enable a faster transition when needed.
  • Have your branch staff check the ATM a minimum of twice a day for skimming devices. Not all skim devices are detectable, but many of them are. Your staff should inspect the card reader and pin pad for tampering or any noticeable changes. Be sure they grab the card reader and wiggle it. It should not move. If it does shift or moves, it could indicate that a skim device has been placed on top of the original reader. Also inspect for glue or tape around the edge of the reader. Many skim devices are put on in such a way that they can be removed very quickly after a period of time, so they are not going to be bolted or adhered tightly to the ATM fascia.
  • For the ATM checks, consider having your branch staff plan visits to the ATM on the way into the office and the way out at the end of the day. You can also have them visit around lunchtime.

These steps can help protect your ATM, your staff, and your cardholders’ data. You can also consult with your ATM or ATM management company for additional security advice. Contact Frank Taddeo at ftaddeo@mddccua.org for more information. 

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