News & Resources
Skimming and Fraud: What Consumers Should Know
By Washington Trust / July 19, 2017
Skimming and Fraud: What Consumers Should Know
 

As seen on The Rhode Show

Having an awareness and understanding of how criminals operate to take advantage of consumers is the first step both banks and card users can take on the path to protecting themselves against ATM and debit fraud, or, more specifically, skimming.

What is Skimming?

Skimming is a type of ATM and debit fraud which involves criminals installing devices inside and/or onto the outside of ATM and point-of purchase machines to steal a customer’s card data and PIN number.

  • How Does a Skimmer Work? A criminal will install an illegal card reading device on an ATM or card-entry point-of-sale slot (i.e. gas pumps) and also use hidden cameras that record PIN numbers entered onto the keypad. These devices are specifically designed to blend in and avoid detection. It takes less than 30 seconds for a criminal to install a skimming device.
  • What Can a Criminal Do With My Data? Data collected can be used to counterfeit the consumers debit card and make fraudulent withdrawals. Criminals will often pick up the skimming devices or collect data from the devices via Bluetooth within a few hours of installation. ATM withdrawals and point-of-sale purchases are later conducted in the same general area in which the skimmer was placed in order to avoid arousing immediate suspicion from the Bank and consumer.

How Can Consumers Protect Themselves Against Skimming?

  • When using an ATM or debit card device, consumers should pay attention to their surroundings - looking out for suspicious details such as discolored or loose card readers or unresponsive keypads. If you notice such details, report the machine to your Bank and use another.
  • Keep a close watch on your bank statements, regularly checking for strange withdrawals. Contact your bank immediately if you notice something suspicious.
  • Use your hand to shield the ATM keypad as you enter your PIN, as criminals sometimes use pin-hole cameras to record a consumer’s PIN.
  • When “paying at the pump,” use gas pumps that have security seals in place to prevent tampering. Report broken seals or signs of tampering to the station attendant.

What Are Banks Doing to Protect Consumers?

Banks are working closely with law enforcement to take preventative measures to increase consumer safety.

  • Banks are issuing EMV chip cards and upgrading ATMs to read EMV chip cards in order to limit a thief’s ability to replicate card data. Unlike the magnetic stripes on traditional credit/debit cards, which contain unchanging data, an EMV chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. 
  • New card-insert devices which accept cards the short way have been developed and are being rolled out in newer ATMs in order to avoid skimming attempts.


Comments are closed.

The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Washington Trust Company. The information in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change at any time without notice. Any person relying upon this information shall be solely responsible for the consequences of such reliance. Performance is historical and does not guarantee future results.