THE BLOG

Beware of Bank ATM "Skimmers"

11/23/2010 03:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Iris Mack Applied Mathematician/Energy Trading & Risk Management

 

Organized criminals are installing equipment on legitimate bank ATMs to steal both the ATM card number and the PIN. The team of criminals sits nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly over weekends and evenings from equipment they install on the front of the ATM. The equipment used to capture your ATM card number and PIN is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment.  A “skimmer” is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals. At the same time, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries. The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM. Tipoff: Most ATMs have a flashing light at the card slot. If the light is obscured, that's a sign of tampering.  Other giveaways: a card slot that is not securely attached or has a different color than the rest of the ATM. Use ATMs in bank lobbies and other places with 24-hour video surveillance. And always cover the keypad as you enter your PIN, because a thief's spy camera may be watching.

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