Skimmers are essentially malicious card readers that grab the data off the card’s magnetic stripe attached to the real payment terminals so that they can harvest data from every person that swipes their cards.
This is a much easier and a high-tech form of theft targeted at ATMs. It’s called skimming. A method used by criminals to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of an ATM card. Devices used are smaller than a deck of cards and are often fastened in close proximity to, or over the top of the ATM’s factory-installed card reader. ATM skimming is a world-wide problem and is not exclusive to just one region or country.
Thieves use hidden electronics to steal the personal information stored on people’s card and record their PIN number to access all their hard-earned cash in their account. Skimming takes two separate components to work. The first part is the skimmer itself and a card reader placed over the ATM’s real card slot. When you slide your card into the ATM, you’re unwittingly sliding it through the counterfeit reader, which scans and stores all the information on the magnetic strip.
However, to gain full access to your bank account on an ATM, the thieves still need your PIN number. That’s where cameras come in. Hidden on or near the ATMs, tiny spy cameras are positioned to get a clear view of the keypad and record all the ATM’s PIN actions Always pay attention to objects mounted on the ATM or located close by. A pinhole or off-color piece of plastic could give away the camera’s hiding place for you to detect.
Tips for avoiding credit card skimming.
Where you Shop. Restaurants, bars, and gas stations seem to be the places where credit card incidents happen most frequently.
Check ATMs before using them. At ATMs, skimmers often place a camera within view of the keypad to steal your PIN. Or, they place a fake keypad on top of the real one to record your keystrokes. When you’re using an ATM, cover your hand as you type your PIN to keep a camera from catching a view of what you’re typing. If the keys seem hard to push, eject your card and use another ATM. Use a bank-operated ATM, which is less likely to have a skimmer, rather than an ATM at a store or gas station.
Shake offs. Try and grip the card receiver and shake it to see if it will fall out. A situation where it falls off, know that that ATM has been tampered with by a skimmer. Report to the bank immediately.
Avoid credit card cleaning scams. Thieves claim to clean the magnetic strip on your credit card to help it work better. These thieves simply swipe your credit card through a credit card skimmer and take your credit card information.
What to Do.
When you approach an ATM, check for some obvious signs of tampering at the top of the ATM, near the speakers, the side of the screen, the card reader itself, and the keyboard. If something looks different, such as a different color or material, graphics that aren’t aligned correctly, or anything else that doesn’t look right, don’t use that ATM. The same is true for credit card readers.
Whenever you enter your debit card PIN, Just assume there is someone looking. Maybe it’s over your shoulder or through a hidden camera. Cover the keypad with your hand when you enter your PIN. Even if you don’t notice the skimmer and swipe your card, covering your hand when you enter your PIN can keep you safe.
Timely reporting is very important in cases of fraud, so be sure to keep an eye on your debit and credit card transactions. Pay attention to your phone. Banks and credit card companies generally have very active fraud detection policies and will immediately reach out to you, usually over phone or SMS, if they notice something suspicious. Responding quickly can mean stopping attacks before they can affect you, so keep your phone handy.
This article serves as awareness and as a guide to all that are reading this article. Be vigilant and observant and report any suspicious ATM when you notice any tempering.