An ATM skimmer is a small device used by identity thieves to steal a victim’s debit and/or credit card numbers.
ATM card skimmers can be installed over an ATM’s card reader slot. When a victim unknowingly inserts his or her card, the skimmer device obtains the data. An identity thief can also attach a small camera somewhere on the ATM in order to see the victim’s PIN number as it’s keyed in.
Another type of skimmer is a keypad device that identity thieves will place over the ATM’s normal keypad. This overlay device can record and store the PIN numbers that are entered. Some advanced versions send the stolen information to the identity thief immediately via text message.
Variations on skimmers
Skimmers are used to do more than steal numbers at ATMs. They are also commonly employed by identity thieves in settings where the victim hands over a card during a business transaction.
For instance, a waitress could use a skimmer to steal a customer’s credit card number once she has taken it away to pay the bill. Skimmers are also sometimes used by bartenders, who can discreetly swipe the card through an illegal skimmer behind the bar before handing it back to the customer.
Protecting yourself from ATM skimmers
Unfortunately, you may not immediately realize if your identity has been compromised because of a skimmer. The ATM may still look normal and operate as it usually does.
In order to protect yourself from skimmers and other tools used in bank scams, you may want to learn more about how identity theft protection companies can help you.