A Visual 3-Step Guide To Detecting ATM Skimmers

Image courtesy of (Lam Thuy Vo and Jess Jiang/NPR)

We’ve talked a lot over the years about being on the lookout for ATM skimmers — devices placed on or in ATMs with the goal of stealing users’ credit/debit card numbers and PINs — but here is a handy step-by-step guide on exactly what to look for when you want to make sure your transaction isn’t being recorded.

The photos are courtesy of NPR’s Planet Money, where staffer Jess Jiang just happened to run into an ATM tech while visiting the bank. Jess asked the tech for advice on detecting skimmers and he provided her with the following:

1. Check for Cameras
Look for cameras anywhere that would have a view of the keypad. These cameras are installed by scammers so they can tape you entering your PIN. Covering the keypad with your other hand while you enter your PIN will help defeat most cameras.

2. Pull on the Card Slot
The actual skimming device is usually placed directly over an ATM’s actual card slot, but since scammers don’t often have hours to properly install skimmers, the illegal device may come off in your hands with just a few gentle tugs.

3. Wiggle the Keypad
Since placing your hand over the keypad will defeat most PIN-stealing cameras, some jerks are placing their own keypads over the ATM’s as a way of recording users’ PINs. So give that keypad a wiggle or a jiggle (your choice) and if it feels loose, find another ATM.

How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off At The ATM [NPR]

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