Skimming: how devices at ATMs can steal data, help criminals clone cards

6 min read
  1. Recently,Delhi police had found that Rs 19 lakh had been fraudulently withdrawn from 87 accounts in three ATMs in a span of seven days. This was done with the help of skimming.
  2. Skimming is a procedure in which criminals clone ATM cards with stolen data.A skimmer is a device designed to look like and replace the card insertion slot at an ATM.
  3. The skimmers which cannot be usually spotted by an untrained eye have circuitry that read and store the data on the magnetic strip of an ATM card even as the ATM processes the same data.
  4. Typically,fraudsters install pinhole cameras in inconspicuous places like the top of the cash dispenser, the deposit slot or just above the keyboard.This steals the PIN for the card.
  5. Days after installation,criminals recover the skimming machines and cameras and collect the stolen data, and decode the PIN for a card. Using stolen data, the criminals clone ATM cards and use it.
  6. This can be prevented with the help of (a)alertness of people who load cash in ATMs and bank officials who can spot any illegal devices planted in ATMs (b)posting guards at ATMs (c)installing machines that do not facilitate installation of cameras and skimmers and (d)use of new high-security bank cards that have facilities against theft of data through skimming.

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