Posted: Robert Siciliano | June 2, 2016


Almost Invisible Card Skimmers Are Awesome

Don't assume that just because you cannot see any sign of a skimmer at the next ATM you use, that there's not one there somewhere, stealthily tucked away from detection by your roving eyes.

NCR is an ATM manufacturer. Recently they alerted banks that thieves are using "deep insert skimmers." These devices, as thin as wafers, are pretty well-concealed because they are hidden inside the cash machines-and this makes it nearly impossible for a user to tell they're there. The more typical skimmer can actually be seen if someone knows what to look for.

A skimmer is placed behind the slot that you swipe your card through. This makes the skimmer virtually hidden from your view. And this deep insert version is being used more and more by thieves.

These skimmers are on the rise in the U.S. and other countries including the UK, Italy, Ireland and Sweden.

So what should you do next time you use an ATM? Look for what appears to be a tiny pinhole camera often tucked in a brochure holder or in a covert looking mirror placed over the keypad. The skimming device doesn't need any camera, but many crooks pair the pinhole camera up with the skimming device to capture PINs.

However, if you spot signs of a that point it doesn't matter if there might be a skimmer present; get out of there; use a different machine, one far away, since the thief may be working a number of ATMs in the same small area.

NCR's current skimmer detection system has been getting bypassed by the crooks, but the company is working on new ways to detect the tampering.

Staying ahead of Thieves

  • If there's the slightest difficulty in sliding your card through the slot, immediately abandon the ATM. Deep insert skimmers can cause a card jam.
  • Never use an ATM that's an isolated kiosk. These are easy to tamper with in the middle of the night, away from bank representatives.
  • Use ATMs inside banks, but do not let your guard down. It's not impossible for a crook to set up a deep insert skimming device in an ATM that's inside a bank.
  • When entering your PIN, cover the hand that's doing the entering.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.


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