ATM Skimmers Are Getting So Good At Stealing Your Data It's Scary

Krebs on Security has the latest on super-small ATM “skimmers” — small devices that nefarious criminals attach to the mouth of an ATM that capture your credit or debit information when you swipe your card — and they’re only getting more advanced and harder to detect.

A new report from the European ATM Security Team outlines the rise of mini-skimmers, which actually sit inside the “throat” of at ATM, stealing data all day long while totally out of view.

One such skimmer, pictured below, works in cooperation with a tiny camera pointed at an ATM’s keypad. You swipe your card, the skimmer has your data. You enter your PIN, the camera captures you pushing the buttons. It’s totally vile, but it works.

Here’s the camera setup — the device itself is pictured left, and its false cover leaves it in prime position on the ATM (pictured right) to scope your PIN.

Often these skimmers will be powered by a mobile phone that transmits captured data via text message. They might also be facilitated by an MP3 player that stores data as sound, which can later be converted back to card data.

Krebs writes that “one of the simplest ways to protect yourself from ATM skimmers is to cover the PIN pad when you enter your digits. Still, you’d be surprised at how few ATM users actually take this simple but effective precaution.”

To learn more about skimmers and how they work, check out Krebs’ series on the topic.

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