While there is no uniform standard in America for tabulating the incidence of crime against ATM users, the U.S. Department of Justice has estimated that such attacks occur at a proportion as low as 1 in 3.5 million transactions.
At this rate, the average American is in greater danger of being hit by a bus while crossing the street to get to an ATM than of being accosted while using it.
ATM transaction data, on the other hand, has proven far more difficult to protect — as we've seen in recent ATM skimming events that have netted millions of dollars within minutes for determined thieves.
Indeed, since banks began putting cash in ATMs in the 1960s, criminal minds have been hard at work trying to find ways to get it back out. And ATM manufacturers have been hard at work trying to prevent them from doing so.
Today, ATMs are equipped with all manner of innovative technologies to foil skimming crime — signal jammers, card jitter devices, motion detectors, fascia protectors and more.
But there's only so much the industry can do to protect consumers from crooks. And the fact remains that cardholders are perhaps their own best protection against skimming fraud.
Observant consumers who look for signs of tampering before using an ATM and who take care that no one gets a look at their PIN as it is entered can easily reduce their vulnerability to account compromise at the ATM.