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ATM Skimming

POSTED IN ADVICE ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2016

What is ATM skimming, and what can you do to protect your account?

What is ATM skimming?

ATM skimming is like identity theft for debit cards. Thieves use hidden electronic devices to steal the personal information stored on your card and record your PIN number to access your account.

How does it work?

Thieves place a card reader over the ATM's real card slot. When you slide your card into the ATM, you're sliding it through the fake reader, which scans and stores all the information on your card. In the example shown below, the skimmer in the top-right photo has a chip located in the card slot. You may notice some discoloration from the tape holding it in place.


Standard card reader


Card reader with skimmer attached


Inside the skimmer


Example of camera over PIN pad

Hidden cameras are positioned on or near the ATMs to get a clear view of the keypad so that thieves can steal your PIN. Some ATM skimming schemes use fake keypads to capture PIN numbers. Just like the card skimmers fit over the ATM's true card slot, skimming keypads are designed to mimic the keypad's design and fit over it. If you notice that the keypad on your ATM seems to stick out from the surface around it, or if you see an odd color change between the pad and the rest of the ATM, it could be a fake.

How can you protect your account?

The best way to protect yourself from skimming is to always cover your PIN and pay attention to the ATM or gas pump you are using. You can even give the card slot a slight tug to see if it jostles loose. Does anything seem off or different? A pinhole or off-color piece of plastic could give away a camera's hiding place.  Contact the financial who owns the ATM to report your suspicion.

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