ATM Skimming – What is it?

ATM skimming is a method used to steal your identity during an ATM transaction. This method uses a credit card skimmer to collect, record, and store your credit card number and PIN number. The person who “reads” your card can use this information to program their own credit card with your information!

This tracking device, when attached to the ATM, is virtually undetectable if you’re not looking for it. It looks like a normal part of the ATM. And just as law enforcement agencies have taken over the technology used by ATM skimmers, comes a technological breakthrough that leaves even veteran investigators in awe. The first device discovered by an ATM user and obtained by the authorities was taken to the CIA and they indicated that they had not seen anything like it!

The method used included two devices. A type of skimmer placed over the card slot in the ATM accompanied by what appeared to be an ATM mounted speaker above the keypad. When the card was inserted, a device placed over the slot scanned the magnetic stripe and the account information was sent (wirelessly) to a modified cell phone hidden behind the fake speaker placed in the ATM above the keypad. A small hidden camera in the dummy speaker would record the entered PIN number and save it to a flash memory card.

The perpetrator would steal a gift card that has not been activated and transfer the account information to the gift card via the magnetic stripe turning it into an ATM card. This device has been credited with stealing over $ 300,000 from people’s accounts in Pennsylvania!

To avoid being caught at the ATM, obvious precautions must be taken. Look for anything that doesn’t seem to belong or seems out of place, like the dummy speaker or a reading device placed over the card slot. Also, when typing your PIN number, protect the keyboard with your other hand in case a camera is watching. Always check your bank statements or better yet, request account monitoring online with your bank so you can instantly check if someone has been to your account.