What is ATM Card Skimming

The age of ‘plastic money’ brought some threats with it and card skimming is one of them. Card skimming is a more direct form of phishing that involves copying information from the magnetic strip of your credit/debit or ATM card. Simply, it is a way of obtaining details of your card including the PIN with the intent of cloning your card and stealing your money. ATM card skimming is a form of identity theft and sadly, many people become aware of it after they have fallen victims. Card skimming is on the rise and is very effective because most people feel secure when using cards at the ATM unlike when online. More so, awareness is paid mostly to online credit card fraud.

How Is ATM Card Skimming Done?

– The fraudsters will attach a magnetic strip reader on the ATM card slot that reads and stores your card details. They later use the information to clone your card and use it elsewhere.

– To capture your PIN, fraudsters may also plant hidden cameras facing the keypad that will record as you type. This is used together with the magnetic strip reader or if they have a way of accessing your card later.

– The fraudster can jam your card on the ATM card slot and wait for you to leave after giving up on retrieving the card. Others will offer to assist in retrieving the card. The scam here is that the fraudster poses as a Samaritan waiting to use the ATM after you. He will convince you to try everything even typing your PIN, and when all fails you will leave and the thief will pick your card plus the PIN.

Tips to Identify Card Skimming

• Abnormal or illegal charges on the card.

• Someone that offers to assist and says that inputting your PIN helps un-jam the card.

• Someone that has been around the ATM for a while and is not using it.

• Check for something suspicious on the ATM card slot for example an attached device.

• A camera that is directly facing the ATM keypad.

If you notice any of the above, refrain from using the ATM, report it to the bank or police, and warn others that could be waiting to use the ATM.

Besides protecting your card from ATM card skimming, you should also protect from unauthorized online use if the thief clones it. Use MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by VISA. These require a password as an added layer of security before using them online. Also, use a strong combination for your PIN and not digits like 1234 or 2222.

To educate yourself more, visit the sources below.


Commbank.com.au – ATM Awareness Guide (pdf)

ScamWatch – Card skimming 

Bankrate.com – Skimming the cash out of your account