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Avoiding skimmer blunders
Let's talk about those well-known devices called skimmers—overlay pads criminals attach to ATMs, for example, to the card readers that read customer bank card information.
To protect against this fraud, security specialists started equipping ATMs with card reader overlays, but ordinary users find it difficult to distinguish them from skimmers.
Skimmers attached to a card reader can mirror an ATM’s colour and design. Their only distinguishing trait is that they protrude slightly from the original frame.
But anti-skimming overlays have the same feature.
Here's what experts recommend you do to minimise your risk:
If something looks suspicious about an ATM, don’t use it. By taking that course of action, you will probably protect your data against skimming—the theft of card information through the use of a special reading device.
Before using an ATM, inspect it attentively. A keypad or additional devices may be next to the display; for example, you may see an extraneous lighting device. Or a mirror or an advertising brochure rack may be in the vicinity. These things can indicate the presence of a skimmer—a reading device affixed to an ATM.
Attackers have several ways to attach spying equipment on an ATM. They can affix a plastic overlay to the card reader or insert a miniature camera into a brochure rack next to an ATM. The camera captures the buttons you press when you enter your PIN. There are also special keyboard overlays that read the order of the numbers you enter.
Unfortunately, anti-skimming overlays do not guarantee that attackers won't steal your data. For several years, a new generation of skimmers has been mentioned in the news. For example, criminals can put a skimmer under the anti-skimming overlay. In this case, they use a thin wand to transfer data.
A data-transfer wand
A data-transfer wand inserted into a skimmer
Data-transfer wand and insert skimmers
The Anti-virus Times recommends
It is clear that an anti-virus, even if installed in an ATM, does not protect against such threats—only a user's vigilance and wariness can reduce the risk:
- don’t use ATMs located in suspicious and dimly lit places, including outside buildings;
- if something seems suspicious about an ATM, do not use it;
- don’t trust ATMs that look unusual or ask you to do alarming things: for example, prompt you to enter your PIN twice to confirm a transaction;
- use ATMs in bank branches or other secure places.
You should bear in mind that it takes few moments for criminals to affix a skimmer (even in secure places); that's why we’re giving you three more recommendations:
- control your expenses by configuring SMS confirmations about all of your bank account transactions;
- order a card specially for expenses and don't keep large sums on it;
- keep your bank contact details close at hand so you can call the bank at any time to report a theft and get your card blocked.