ATM Skimming: What it is, How it Works & How to Prevent

ATM Skimming: What it is, How it Works & How to Prevent

This is a guide about ATM skimming. Learn what ATM skimming is, how it works and how to prevent it. Increasing your knowledge about ATM card skimming will certainly help you from becoming a victim of it. ATM skimming had been somewhat rampant in Philippines, as more news and sites trying to publicize it. Here is an article to help raise awareness and inform more people to learn more what is ATM skimming and all about it.

What is ATM Skimming?

ATM Skimming is a method that is used by criminals to capture the data from the magnetic stripe located on the back of an ATM card. It uses devices that are fastened in close proximity or over the top of an ATM card reader. It also uses a pin capturing method like strategically attached cameras or additional keypads which aims to capture the ATM user’s PIN.

atm skimming

Sample ATM Skimming Device

It is a modus operandi where an ATM skimming machine device is attached and made to blend with the ATM card slot. The device acts like a photocopier, where it automatically capture or memorize the ATM card’s magnetic strip which has the victim’s vital banking personal account information on it.

How does ATM Skimming Work?

An ATM skimmer takes two components in order to work. First part of it is the skimmer itself. Skimmer is a card reader placed over the ATM card slot. When you slide your card through a skimmer, it scans and stores all the information on the magnetic strip of your ATM card.

Second component is the “PIN capturer”, depending on the method of the thief in can be cameras or fake keypads. With the advancement of technology the “PIN capturer” can have added devices like wireless devices that can submit and transfer information fast. Fake keypads are often piggy-backed on the ATM keyboard area.

All these components are designed to blend with the looks of the ATM machine. An expert ATM skimming criminal only takes about three minutes to successfully install their skimming device in an ATM machine.

How to Prevent ATM Skimming?

Below are ways and steps on how you can prevent yourself from being a victim of ATM skimming.

For Banks:

Implement an EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) chip card without the magnetic stripe. EMV uses a chip where data is not easily detected unlike the normal black magnetic stripe found on normal ATM cards. The data is dynamic and changes every time an EMV chip card is used making it impossible to copy.

For ATM users:

  • Check the ATM machine for any suspicious tampering. If something doesn’t look right like off-color component or some protrusion on an ATM machine, consider going to another machine.
  • Consider staying away from ATMs that are not visible in public and not located on well-lit areas.
  • Increase your self-awareness during late at night and early in the morning, as criminals tend to attach ATM skimming devices during this time and during periods of low traffic. Skimming devices are usually attached on the ATM machine for a few hours only.
  • Be observant, as criminals doing ATM skim attacks often sit nearby the ATM machines, and some just wait to receive information transmitted wirelessly.
  • Always shield your PIN using your hand when entering it. Even if ATM skimmers got your ATM card data, they still need your PIN code to access it. This method often solves ATM skimming that uses camera to capture PINs.

That’s it. Hope this article helped you knowing all about ATM skimming. You have just learned what is ATM skimming, how it works, and how to prevent it. Remember to report if you have seen any unusual appearance immediately to police if you’ve encountered one and stay vigilant to reduce the risk of being ATM skimmed.