Cover The Keypad To Thwart Advanced ATM-Skimming Techniques

Cover The Keypad To Thwart Advanced ATM-Skimming Techniques

Last year we showed you how to spot an ATM card skimmer. Thieves have increased their efforts and are now using tiny pinhole cameras to capture your PIN number too. Keep the keypad covered to increase security.

The video above is actual footage from a card skimming rig recovered by police in the United Kingdom. You can see the thieves installing the skimmer and the camera, as well as customers both shielding and not shielding their PIN number as they enter it. While the customers are obviously unaware of the card skimmer and camera monitoring them, their healthy paranoia about their PIN number protects them even in the absence of someone looking directly over their shoulder.

While you’re thinking about ATM security, here are some other tips to consider:

  • Always examine the ATM for signs of tampering. Keep an eye out for discoloured, loose fitting or odd looking parts.
  • If possible, avoid third-party ATMs. ATMs inside a bank lobby, for example, are very unlikely to be compromised where as ATMs in remote locations or run by unknown companies present a higher risk.
  • Keep envelopes for your most frequently used ATM in your car or office so you can prepare your deposit ahead of time.
  • Keep an adequate amount of cash on hand to avoid emergency trips to an ATM in areas you are unfamiliar with or at unsafe hours.

For more ATM safety tips, check out this list complied by the Electronic Funds Transfer Association and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Have a security tip or experience with identity theft? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

Bank Customers Foil ATM Skimmer [Wired via Gawker]


  • Get an ING savings maximiser and everyday account (and preferably an iPhone). Keep money in the savings maximiser and only transfer it to the everyday account just before you go to the ATM via the iPhone enabled web site. Even if your details are stolen, the thieves can’t steal money if it’s not in the account! Also, ING’s current account lets you withdraw $200+ from any banks ATM without charges.

    • That’s a pretty good idea Richard, what i have found also reading on the net, is that most Commies ATM’s have a blinking light where you put in the ATM card, if its not blinking, beware, as it should be, also covering up your pin with a wallet, instead of your hand, just makes it that much harder to track.

  • Most guys will have their wallet in hand when they are using an ATM. Just lean to put your pin in without looking and hold the wallet over your hand. I’ve been doing that for years and it is pretty automatic now.

    One area that is also open to abuse is entering pin numbers at a merchants terminal. Usually you have to hold the terminal with one hand and enter with the other which makes it very hard to shield the number. My solution is to not have a pin enabled card but to continue signing. If a card is cloned and a camera catches your pin entry then your bank will be cleaned out before you have got home. At least a forged signature only racks up charges on your credit card which is a lot easier to fight than an emptied bank a/c.

  • I’ve heard that some skimmers are putting touch sensitive pads on the keys now, so unfortunately this won’t work in all cases. Doesn’t hurt though (I do the wallet cover technique that Chris suggested)

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