Foil ATM Card Skimmers By Covering Your Hand When Entering Your PIN

We've shown you how to spot an ATM skimmer, but now that debit card thieves are dealing with a savvy bunch they've decided to step up their game. The latest technology is much harder to detect, but you can foil it pretty easily by just covering your hand when you enter your PIN.

Image: manzrussali (Shutterstock).

Brian Krebs, in a post on his security blog, offers up several pictures of these new skimmers that look pretty much identical to any slot on the ATM. Although there's very little you can do to stop the skimmer from reading your card number, you can avoid leaking your pin to the tiny digital camera inside. It records the numbers you push on the keypad, so covering your hand when you enter your PIN can block its line of sight. This is a good practice, anyhow, just in case you've got someone lurking over your shoulder.

All in all, you don't want to be overly paranoid because sometimes you have to use an ATM machine. That said, be cautious about covering up your PIN and avoid ATMs unless you need one. Remember that you can safely withdraw money when you make a purchase at the supermarket and that paying with a credit card whenever possible is not only a safer option but can earn you rewards points. Keeping those things in mind, you shouldn't have too much to worry about.

Skimtacular: All-in-One ATM Skimmer [Krebs on Security via Consumerist]


    I always do this too, however I was reading a few months back that some have graduated to IR cameras now so that they can see the heat signature left behind by the user's fingers. The strongest IR signature is the key that was pushed last and so the order of the keys can be determined too.

    Pretty sure I read that here or on Giz.

      I read something like that too, so I've now taken to holding my hand on all the buttons as the atm goes through it's processing thing so that all the keys are all as warm as each other.

    if IR cameras are a deal, why not cover the pin pad with your hot little hand and make them all warm?

    This also stops a person nearby/behind you from watching and then stealing your wallet.

    I already cover the pad with my wallet in my left hand; thanks for the tip on the IR camera though!

      Yup.. wallet coverer here too.

    Having some professional experience in this field, it may seem obvious but make sure you actually sign the back of your card.

    You would be surprised at the amount of people that do not sign their card and then it gets stolen. So the thief just ads his signature. Basic but happens A LOT!

      Not sure how legal this is but You can write Photo ID only instead of signing and stop them from trying to forge your signature.

    I used to work at one of the big four banks, and I can tell you that thieves have developed 'plates' that go over the top of the numeric keypad, so even if you do cover your hand, they still get your pin. They are replica keypads which look identical to the originals and sit over the top. When you press the buttons it pushes through to the actual keys, but they get an electronic reading of which buttons you've pressed.

    Bottom line, you are never 100% safe, so stay vigilant.

    Don't all the machines already tell you to do that?

    ARRRGH! "... sometimes you have to use an ATM machine."

    ATM = Automatic Teller Machine - so the sentence reads: "... sometimes you have to use an Automatic Teller Machine machine."

    One of my pet peeves. Just letting off steam. Pay no attention. I feel better now :)

      coming from someone called MikeyMike....that made me chuckle

      BTW, it pisses me of too.

    IR Cameras, Fake PIN Pads etc. - Yeah ATM's are not safe, however neither are the machines in-store, there have been several instances where the in-store machines have been switched out for compromised ones, usually without the store-owner's knowledge.

    I've also talked to Retail Managers where they've, fortunately, told someone that "No, without some other contact from my Bank, I'm not letting you change my machine." - So I wonder how many managers just accepted things on face value?

    Bottom line: always be looking at your transaction history on your online banking account (I admit to doing this almost obsessively).
    Don't wait 'til you get your bank statement to check and see that there were purchases you didn't make on your card a month ago or more. The earlier you catch these discrepancies, the more likely it is that perpetrators will be caught and you can be compensated.

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