The idea that outdoor ATMs are among the most dangerous places to swipe a debit card seems a little bit absurd. But some ATMs present the perfect opportunity for thieves to skim users' debit cards, says Chris McGoey, a security consultant based in Los Angeles.
Skimming is a method of capturing a bank customer's card information by running it through a machine that reads the card's magnetic strip. Those machines are often placed over the real card slots at ATMs and other card terminals.
You're better off using an ATM inside a retail outlet or other high-trafficked, well-lit place.
Julie Conroy, research director for the retail banking practice at Aite Group, a Boston-based financial services research firm, says even the card terminals that card users must swipe to get into ATM vestibules are being used as a skimming site by criminals. You can spot ATM skimmers by checking for ATM components that look beat-up or askew, she says.