Cardless Cash Part of Changing Financial Literacy Landscape
By Susan Beacham
March 28, 2017
Every time my husband withdraws cash from an ATM he first takes a moment to examine the machinery. Before he swipes his card, he wants to be sure nothing has been attached or looks out of whack. That’s the best way to protect against “skimming” devices that steal information on the card.
Skimming is a form of identity theft, and it can have devastating effect. Last year, a man was arrested in San Diego County and charged with placing skimming devices on Wells Fargo ATMs across the country. He allegedly used stolen data from 4,900 cards to create counterfeit cards that were then used to steal nearly $500,000.
Skimming has been around for a while, and thankfully technology is now providing a solution. The recent episode prompted Wells Fargo to invest in a cardless withdrawal system. At the bank’s 13,000 ATMs, customers can now get cash via an app on their smart phone.
Using the app, a customer requests a “one-time use only” code that they punch into the ATM along with their pin—and out comes the money. This is an example of how technology is changing personal finance, in this case thwarting identity theft. It offers a great opportunity to raise the subject of identity theft with students and introduce them to other apps and technology that make saving and spending easier and more secure.
For now, at Well Fargo customers still need their ATM card during non-business hours to get by the secure doors at branches. An update to the app later this year is expected to eliminate the need to input the code and allow you to simply hold the phone up to the ATM to initiate a transaction.
If your bank does not offer a “cardless withdrawal” ask if the technology is coming and let officials there know you’d appreciate the safeguard. In the meantime, be watchful for devices on the ATM that seem loosely attached or otherwise out of place. Report them and use another ATM. As always, monitor your statements for fraudulent activity.
For more on how to spot, avoid and cure an identity theft problem, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website. The FTC has valuable tips to share with adults and children alike.