ATM Skimmer – How to Avoid Dangerous ATM Insert Skimmers

Skimmers are used to illegally collect data from the magnetic stripe of a credit, debit or ATM card. The information, copied onto another blank card’s magnetic stripe, is then used by an identity thief to make purchases or withdraw cash in the name of the actual account holder.

What is ATM Skimmer?

A type of fraud which occurs when an ATM is compromised by a skimming device, a card reader which can be disguised to look like a part of the machine. The card reader saves the users’ card number and pin code, which is then replicated into a counterfeit copy for theft.

Read Also: Jackpotting Attacks Hit U.S. ATMs; Spit Out Cash In Seconds.

For a near look, how stealthy insert skimmers can be, it helps to see videos of these things being installed and removed. Here is the promotional sales video disclosed by two ATM Skimmer providers.

Traditional ATM skimmers are fraud devices made to be placed over the top of the cash machine’s card acceptance slot, usually secured to the ATM with glue or double-sided tape.

Now financial institution is tweaking their technologies to detect anything placed over the machines. As a result, more fraudsters are selling and using insert skimming devices — which are completely hidden from view once inserted into an ATM.

A sales video produced by yet another miscreant in the cybercrime underground shows an insert skimmer being installed and removed from a motorized card acceptance slot that has been fully removed from an ATM so that the fraud device can be seen even while it is inserted.

In a typical setup, insert skimmers capture payment card data from the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards inserted into a hacked ATM, while a pinhole spy camera hidden above or beside the PIN pad records time-stamped video of cardholders entering their PINs. The data allows thieves to fabricate new cards and use PINs to withdraw cash from victim accounts.

Covering the PIN pad with your hand blocks any hidden camera from capturing your PIN — and hidden cameras are used on the vast majority of the more than three dozen ATM skimming incidents.

Precautions To Be Taken

1. Try to visit ATM’s in publicly-visible locations.

Though deep-insert skimmers may be difficult to detect, it may be harder for criminals to install such devices in well-lit, frequently-trafficked ATM s than it might be for more-remotely-located ATMs.

2. Regularly check your bank statements.

Opening those email PDFs, logging into your bank site or opening those letters may seem boring and a waste of time, but especially as skimming technology becomes harder to detect on the front end, it pays to double check on the back end.

3. Get credit monitoring

If someone steals your ATM-card information, they may try to use it to open up a line of credit at that bank or apply for a card in your name.

4. Check for Tampering

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.

There are few steps everyone needs to minimize the skimmer Gang Success

  1. Cover the PIN pad while you enter your PIN
  2. Try to avoid dodgy-looking and standalone cash machines in low-lit areas, if possible.
  3. Stick to ATM s that are physically installed in a bank. Stand-alone ATM s are usually easier for thieves to hack.
  4. Be especially vigilant when withdrawing cash on the weekends; thieves tend to install skimming devices on a weekend — when they know the bank won’t be open again for more than 24 hours.
  5. Keep a close eye on your bank statements, and dispute any unauthorized charges or withdrawals immediately.


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Ashwini Gurne

Ashwini Gurne is a software developer and also a contributor for Security leaks. As a contributor, her aim is to work on latest technologies and to spread cyber awareness among general public.

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