I've often thought if criminals used their cunning and channeled it to something positive, they could make a ton more money in the legitimate venture. Today, criminals will install surveillance equipment on ATM's in order to skim cutomers' information. You walk up to the ATM, insert your card, enter you PIN, and your banking information has been skimmed.

How Skimming Works

Undetectible devices are installed by the purveyor; these devices blend in with the face of the ATM or the credit card reader at the gas pump or the grocery store, and are placed over the factory-installed reader. A skimming device can take the form of a phony keypad that is installed directly on top of the real one that records every keystroke by the user; if a phony keypad isn't used, then a hidden camera is installed to record your keystrokes. The skimming devices then send information either from the magnetic strip on your card through the criminal's device (or from your keystrokes) wirelessly to the criminal. 

Next, the information from the skimming device is downloaded onto a fresh, blank bank card for the criminal's use. The average victim of a scam losses about $1,000.

When Does Skimming Take Place?

The majority of skimming takes place around the lunch hour or after work. Think about it: this is the time that most people will stop by the ATM so they can go to socialize with nine other people and hopefully pay their fair share with cash when the bill comes.

Steps To Avoid Skimming

  • Before using any card reader, take a close look; look for anything loose or crooked. If you see tape or glue, this should be a clue that something isn't right. If suspicious at all, don't use it.
  • When you're inputting your PIN, block your hand with your free hand, so if there's a camera, it can't "see" what keys you're hitting. Do the same if someone is standing behind you in line to use the ATM.
  • Use ATMs inside a building; typically, there's less chance they've been tampered. This doesn't mean they won't be altered, just less of a chance.
  • Tourist locations are notorious for skimmers.
  • If your card isn't returned after the transaction or isn't returned after you press the "cancel" button, notify the bank immediately.

 Do you think you've ever seen a skimming device on an ATM?

CategoriesCredit & Debt