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What is ATM Skimming?

“ATM skimming” is when a criminal places an electronic device on an ATM that scoops information from a bank card’s magnetic strip whenever a customer uses the machine.

How skimming works

The devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users—the makers of this equipment have become very adept at creating them, often from plastic or plaster so that they blend right into the ATM’s façade. The specific device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phony reader, and their account info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby.

Skimming devices are installed for short periods of time—usually just a few hours—so they’re often attached to an ATM by nothing more than double-sided tape. They are then removed by the criminals, who download the stolen account information and encode it onto blank cards. The cards are used to make withdrawals from victims’ accounts at other ATMs.

How to avoid being skimmed

  • Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it…be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
  • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers). 
  • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas…they are a popular target of skimmers.
  • If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.
  • Subscribe SMS alert service from your Bank.
  • Change your PIN code frequently.
  • If you find any banking transaction that you are not aware of, then inform to your bank and Police.

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