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What You Need to Know About ATM Skimmers


In today’s world, a criminal will go to great lengths to steal and fraudulently use data from your credit or debit card. One of the most efficient methods is a skimming device – “skimmer.” A skimmer is essentially a portable device that captures card data. These devices can range from small versions of a copy machine that capture receipt information to sophisticated cameras the size of pen tips.

Skimmers are more commonly associated with two locations: ATMs and gas pumps. Thieves place the device near or over the card reader, as it can be fitted like a mold. Once the device has been placed, the criminal will wait awhile and then return to collect the skimmer. Upon collection, any recorded data will be pulled off the device and can be used to attempt fraudulent card replication or other transactions.

At a gas pump, ATM or other unmonitored card reader station, take precautions before you swipe.

  • Does the card reader face look out of place?
  • Wiggle the reader to see if it’s loose or pulls off easily.
  • Look for any out of place objects attached to the top or front of the ATM. An easy way to spot unauthoirzed devices is to look at the color. It will often not match the ATM.
  • Inspect the installed camera and speaker and report any findings of damage or alteration.
  • Check the keyboard to see if it has an overlay attached to it.

Remember – If you question the security of a device, report it to the company or financial institution. If you are still uncomfortable, don’t chance it. Find another location to conduct your transaction.

This article was originally published in the Emprise Bank “Security Now” newsletter.

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