Jay Allpress

Aug 29 2017

How to Spot and Avoid ATM Skimming Devices


Watch Jay’s video on How to Spot and Avoid ATM Skimming Devices on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIBK3gVMX5k

Criminals use skimming techniques to install hidden devices on ATM or cash machines to obtain card information and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). Oftentimes, these devices are attached directly to an ATM card reader and a camera is used to record the card owner entering their PIN. Criminals then create a counterfeit card for unauthorized use of the customer’s card. When this happens, criminals may capture all the information that’s encoded in the magnetic stripe of the back of your card, including name, card number, PIN, and card expiration date.

What does an ATM skimming device look like?

ATM skimming devices are hard to detect and are typically a small device that fits over the existing card reader at an ATM. Many times, skimming devices are made from the same parts as the ATMs they are installed on, making them virtually undetectable. A hidden camera is also installed with a view of the number pad in order to record PINs of the skimmed cards. It may be in the card reader, mounted on the top of the ATM, or even to the side of a brochure holder. Sometimes fake PIN pads may be installed over the actual keypad to capture the PINs directly.

Not all skimming devices are the same, but KrebsonSecurity.com has a blog series, “All About Skimmers” that shows different styles of skimming devices that are placed on ATMs.

What should you look for when using an ATM?

Upon approaching an ATM, you can do the following to help protect your transaction:

    • Pay attention to what the card readers and keypads look like at the ATMs you frequently use. Check them over for anything that looks out of the ordinary such as unusual scratches or gouges, wires, tape residue on or near the card reader, or odd-looking equipment attached to the ATM.
    • Check for obvious signs of tampering. Common points of tampering include the top of the ATM, speakers, side of the screen, card reader, and keypad.
    • When using ATMs or PIN devices, you should always shield your PIN by placing your hand over the keypad as you enter your PIN.
    • Criminals also use card skimming devices designed to jam your card inside an ATM, and then disguise themselves as a helpful stranger who watches as you input your PIN a few times, while the card remains stuck. After you leave, the thief will remove your card and have your PIN. Be sure to carefully observe ATMs for fraudulent devices and be aware of your surroundings when conducting transactions.

What to do if you think an ATM has a skimming device installed on an ATM or your card has been compromised.

Do not use an ATM if the card reader appears to be loose or fits poorly. If you see something suspicious that you think may be an ATM skimmer, alert the business where the ATM is located. If it’s after business hours, call the local authorities.

Unfortunately, ATM skimming is a problem around the world. Hills Bank continues to monitor both local and international fraud trends to make sure we are aware of the latest scamming techniques and update our technologies to combat the changing tactics of criminals. And as always, monitor and review your account information and report any suspicious or fraudulent transactions immediately by calling us at 1-800-445-5725 (1-800-HILLSBK).

Jay Allpress

About Jay Allpress

Jay Allpress is Vice President, Security. He has been at Hills Bank since 2009 handling the security department for Hills Bank including physical and information security. He has been involved in physical and information security for over 20 years. Prior to joining Hills Bank, Jay served in the United States Air Force and Iowa Air National Guard in numerous locations including Misawa, Japan; Bellevue, Nebraska; Mountain Home, Idaho; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Fort Dodge, Iowa. Jay is an active member of ASIS International, Safeguard Iowa Partnership and Iowa Contingency Planners. Jay is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Community Banking Security Professional (CCBSP). Jay can be reached at jay_allpress@hillsbank.com.


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