How Can ATM Card Skimmers Put Your Financial Security In Danger?

Everyday we see the use of more machines come into play that supposedly makes our lives easier. While some people might complain about the infiltration of so many machines it is a fact that overall they have made our lives easier. But while they have made our lives easier for the most part there are a few cases where they can seem like they are not worth the hassle as well. A lot of people feel that way when it comes to understanding computers when they are trying to fix them. Unless you are a computer major or someone with a lot of experience it can be very hard to attempt. But more often than not the major problems people have with the machines today and a computer in particular is when it comes to security.

For the most part, most of the problems with computers and security come from home computers. People, not knowing any better, leave open holes that allow black hat hackers to burrow inside of their systems. They dig and dig until they find something that is interesting. But personal computers are not the only machines that exist where security problems are a reality for the average user. Recently there has been a whole host of scams perpetrated on people when they used their local ATM machines. And that is what this article is about, trying to protect yourself from harm when you use an ATM machines.

watch out for ATM skimmers

watch out for ATM skimmers

Why is an ATM machine dangerous?

You might think to yourself that the protection on an ATM machine from the bank must be excellent, why should we have to worry about a security problem? You always have to worry about security on any ATM machine that you use but I am really not talking about the ATM machines that are inside of banks. I am, for the most part, talking about ATM machines that you see run by third parties. They are machines with the generic names that you have never heard of on top of them. They are usually grey but can come in any color. These are the machines that you have to look out for.

There is a scam that has been going on for several years but it has now reached new heights. It is known as ATM skimming and if you are a victim, it could really cause you to have financial problems.

What is ATM skimming?

ATM skimming is when a bad guy places a different device over the top of the usual section where you place the ATM card. This device will read the ATM card that you place in the machine and transmit the data that is on the card. Sometimes there might even be a camera on the external device or nearby which is able to watch you as you punch in the numbers for the card. This way they not only have your ATM data but they have your card pass number as well. This means that they will be able to access the money that is in your account anytime that they want.

How can you stop it?

If you want to make sure that you do not fall victim to such an attack there are several things that you can do. None of these means are fool proof but they will help a little bit. The level of skill that the people who pull these tricks off vary so some of the prevention methods will work on some hacks and on other hacks they will not.

The first thing that you can do is, if you can, always use the ATM that is inside or connected on the outside of a bank. These scams happen less on these machines because the banks have cameras that are always watching them. It takes a couple of minutes for the bad guys to set up these devices and someone will notice if it is done at one of these banks.

The second thing to do is always make sure that you take a good look at the ATM machine before you stick your card into it. If you really look most of the time it is easy to tell if the front end is a fake or not. Most people are caught in the trap because they are in a rush and do not really take the time to look at the ATM machines.

ATM machines are not the only machines that have skimmers scams going on. There are plenty of other devices as well. At the gas station, in a restaurant, basically anyplace with a card scanner. This is why you must always be on your toes when you are using your card.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Is it just me or does anyone else think that with all our tech knowledge they should be able to come up with a way to prevent skimmers from being attached to atm machines.

    • Nope, its not just you. In fact I was thinking earlier how ironic it is that the march of technology just seems to make the world a less secure place all the time.


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