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ATM skimming

(also automated teller machine skimming)

ATM skimming definition

ATM skimming is a cybercrime in which criminals steal cardholders' data by attaching unauthorized devices to an automated teller machine (ATM). These devices, known as skimmers, read and store the magnetic stripe information from the card when it has been inserted into the machine. The collected data can then create counterfeit cards or online transactions. Sometimes, criminals may also install hidden cameras or fake keypads to capture the user's PIN.

See also: network encryption, data breach, synthetic identity theft

ATM skimming examples

  • Skimming device: A small electronic device attached to the ATM's card reader, which captures the card's magnetic stripe data during a transaction.
  • Pinhole camera: A tiny camera, often hidden near the ATM's keypad, that records the user's PIN as they enter it.
  • Fake keypad: A false keypad placed over the ATM's original keypad to capture the user's PIN without their knowledge.

Protecting against ATM skimming

  • Inspect the ATM for signs of tampering, such as loose or mismatched components.
  • Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
  • Regularly check your account for suspicious transactions.
  • Use ATMs in well-lit, busy locations because they are less likely to be tampered with.
  • Enable notifications for account transactions to monitor unauthorized activity.