A reader passed this article onto me regarding hacked ATMs in Cancun. At first, I glanced at the article and thought to myself, “well, a lot of ATMs get ‘hacked’ with those devices people attach to the outside of them,” but then realized how systemic it is in Cancun as I read it.
Usually, when an ATM is compromised, someone is placing a device over the card reader. Once you know what to look for, you can be savvy and avoid them.
In Cancun, the ATM technicians are in on the scam. So rather than putting the skimmer on the outside, it is literally built into the device.
Krebs on Security did a study and found compromised ATMs in places we usually consider safe–such as the lobby in a Marriott.
So how do you protect yourself?
One way you can is to use a debit account that does not have much money in it. Preferably one you can easily transfer money to. But also make sure that debit account is set to not let you overdraw and is set to decline instead.
Another way is to get a loadable card you can use at ATMs that isn’t actually attached to your bank.
For me, I try to use credit whenever possible to avoid having to use the ATM.
I also recommend setting up a Mint.com account and checking your accounts frequently–especially when traveling.