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  • Mohan Chathuranga

How to avoid ATM card skimming

Card skimming is a type of card theft where crooks use a small device to steal credit/debit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction while you use tha card at ATM and Point of Sale (PoS) machines


When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card's magnetic stripe. The stripe contains the credit card number and expiration date and the credit card holder's full name. Thieves use the stolen data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card. Devices used are smaller than deck of cards and are fastened over close proximity to your ATM Card Reader.




Occasionally, certain retail and restaurant workers who handle credit cards are recruited to be part of a skimming ring. These workers use a handheld device to skim your credit card during a normal transaction. For example, we routinely hand our cards over to waiters to cover the check for a restaurant. The waiter walks away with our credit cards and, for a dishonest waiter, this is the perfect opportunity to swipe the credit card through a skimmer without being detected.




Once the victim's credit card information is stolen, thieves will either create cloned credit card to make purchases in store, use the account to make online purchases, or sell the information on the internet. Victims of credit card skimming are often unaware of the theft until they notice unauthorized charges on their account, have their card unexpectedly declined, or receive an overdraft notification in the mail.





Facts on Skimming devices

  • Skimming devices are normally attached into ATM during quite periods and quite areas.

  • Attached duration may change nut usually it will be attached for 24 hours

  • Successful skimming usually requires the card reader as well as a PIN reader (camera)

  • Criminals may loiter nearby to observe customers & remove equipment after machine use.

  • Downloaded information will transmitted wirelessly to other devices.




How you can reduce the risk

  1. Familiarise yourself with the look and feel of the ATM machine

  2. Inspect ATM and all its area for suspectful or non-standard modifications

  3. Is there anything unusual? (no card reader light, card reader is shaky, there are camera type gadgets etc)

  4. Report anything unusual immediately to the bank or Police

  5. Always use your hand when entering your PIN






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