How to Protect Terminals from ATM Skimming

What is ATM Skimming?

ATM Skimming is a type of fraudulent attack in which a criminal uses an electronic device to steal personal information stored on ATM users’ debit cards in an attempt to steal their money. 

Three types of ATM Skimming

There are three distinct types of ATM Skimming attacks: digital, analog and stereo.

Digital ATM Skimming 

Most common in the United States, Digital ATM skimming occurs when criminals place an attachment either inside or outside of the ATM and record data from the magnetic strip on users’ debit cards when they use the ATM.  The data stolen from this type of attack is then used to directly steal money or create counterfeit debit cards.

Analog ATM Skimming 

In an analog attack, the criminal uses a wiretapping device to record the sounds of the PIN entry on the machine or a small camera somewhere to the front of the machine in order to obtain the users’ PIN number.  These are highly sophisticated devices and often look like part of the machine; they are not easy to detect to an untrained eye.

Stereo ATM Skimming 

During a stereo attack, thieves employ a two-headed skimmer, recording both card data and the anti-skimming jamming frequency simultaneously.  Criminals then separate this information and convert the card data into digital or analog.

How Independent ATM Deployers (IADs) Can Protect Terminals from ATM Skimmers 

The most effective way to prevent skimming is to implement EMV capable readers, which use a chip rather than a magnetic strip.  This reader prevents skimming devices from obtaining the information on the debit card in use. IADs can also purchase custom security, which can deter or even prevent skimming activity.  When installed, the security kits integrate with management software to alert the IAD on any fraudulent activity.   

Ultimately, skimming will continue to be a problem in the United States until magnetic strips are phased out entirely.  It is imperative to monitor your ATMs diligently to ensure the ATM has not been tampered with, and that a skimming device or camera has not been installed.