Skimmers are devices that thieves attach to the ATM card slot to capture account information from your cash card’s magnetic strip. These thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated. One tip off, says Sid Kirchheimer (AARP), is if the flashing light on the ATM is obscured. The University of Texas at Austin Police Department posted some photographs of interesting and creative equipment used by thieves in stealing ATM information.
The organized criminals install the equipment on legitimate bank ATMs. The team then sits in a nearby car receiving information transmitted wirelessly over weekends and evenings from the equipment that they install in front of the ATM. Equipment is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment. The thieves go so far as to put PIN reading cameras housed in innocent leaflet enclosures mounted next to the ATM. Another giveaway is that the card slot is not securely attached or has a different color than the rest of the ATM.
AARP recommends using ATMs in bank lobbies or other places with 24-hour video surveillance and that you always cover the key pad as you enter your PIN because the thieves’ spy camera may be watching.