Bankers Diary

What Is ATM Skimming? How To Protect YourSelf?


ATM Skimming is a term used for a secret activity when criminals insert a secret device on the face of an ATM Machine, with the purpose of stealing user’s account information from his/her card as well as for copying their secret PIN Code. Skimming is such a serious crime which is the most difficult crime to be controlled by international financial industry. Worldwide ATM Industry Association has reported that more than $1 billion annual global losses are caused by Debit/Credit card fraud and ATMs.

The device they use for this purpose is a fake card slider which looks like normal parts of the machine, which is almost impossible for customers to know the difference between original machine parts and a skimmer device. Through this skimmer the thieves easily copy all the data using fake card reader. Often the thieves hide a little pinhole camera around the ATM Machine in order to steal the customer’s PIN Code. Skimming is possible on Gas Pumps equally.

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Skimming

What actually the thieves do is, they affix hardware on the face of ATM machine and with the help of device they extract the victim’s card data and PIN code secretly. Once data is compromised they get an artificial card to get the cash out as quick as possible. They simply hack the Database full of Debit/Credit card numbers and PINs, and insert the compromised data and PIN to get the money out. All they need is a skimming device, a pinhole camera and their strategy to perform skimming.

Normally the device used for skimming is a “Deep insert skimmer”, which is installed on some ATMs with malicious intent. It’s cleverly disguised as the ATM card reader; it’s extremely thin and designed to be inserted deep within the original card reader itself. Hence its extremely difficult for anyone to identify the skimmer.


Another way the thieves use is they purchase a used ATM machine from any second hand machines market and place that in public area to record victim’s card data. Those ATMs are semi functional but does not dispense cash; their purpose is just extraction of data. You many also read 10 tips to protect yourself and secure your debit card from hackers.

How To Protect Yourself From ATM Skimming?

There are few ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of skimming. Examine the ATM machine before inserting the card. Check the card slider keenly if it matches the style and color of the machine or not. You should also shake the machine to make sure that there is nothing attached to the card reader of ATM.

  • Keep your card in sight
  • Never share your PIN
  • Be discreet with your PIN
  • Look for signs of tampering
  • Avoid outdoor ATMs
  • Check your credit card statement
  • Report suspicious activity
  • Notify your bank when you go overseas

Cover the Keypad when entering your PIN, by covering the PIN you can prevent cameras to see your secret key. Check your Bank Statements often; in case of some unknown transactions you can inform the bank immediately to inactive your debit/credit card. Be Selective for using any ATM machine placed in restaurants and stores, they are not usually monitored and could be tempered easily by anyone.

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