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Digital Pad ATM Skimming Device Warning

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Circulating image depicts a scamming system in which a fake keypad is placed over the top of the genuine keypad on an ATM as a means of stealing card data.

ATM Keypad
© Kassandra2

Brief Analysis

Such card skimming devices are certainly real. In fact, criminals have used several types of devices that can be fitted on different areas of an ATM in order to harvest card data input by users. The pictured digital pad is just one such device. The image is included on a page about payment card fraud on the Europol website. Although banks have taken steps to improve ATM security, users should remain vigilant. Watch out for anything about the ATM that looks unusual or out-of-place.



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ATM Digital Pad Scam

Be Careful!!! New scamming system....Digital pad that stores & reads card data!

Detailed Analysis

Unlike many of the security warnings that circulate via Facebook, this one has validity. The circulating image depicts a fake keypad that fits over the real keypad on an ATM. The message's caption warns that the digital pad is a scamming system that can capture the PIN and other data entered on the fake keypad.

The image is genuine. ATM keyboard skimmer plates like the one pictured do exist and have been used by criminals to steal PIN and banking data from unsuspecting ATM users. The same image is included on the website of Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, in a gallery titled "Counterfeit cash & payment card fraud". The image has the caption, "Card skimming: The genuine keypad is covered with a fake to dupe the customer.

The particular device pictured may have been used on a European ATM. However, similar fake keyboard devices have been used on ATMs in other parts of the world as well.  A slideshow about ATM card skimming fraud presented by Australia's Commonwealth Bank includes the following image showing how such devices work (See screenshot on right).

In fact, card skimming devices of various kinds are nothing new and have been used by criminals to steal financial information for many years. ATMs come in a variety of formats and configurations and so do the devices criminals use to steal information from them. Some skimmers, like the phoney keypad in the above image may record keystrokes made by the user for later retrieval by the criminals.

Other fake devices may fit over the ATM's card reader and either store the card data or transmit it wirelessly to nearby criminals using smartphones or laptops. Another ATM skimming warning that began circulating back in 2005 depicts such a card reader skimmer device.

Some skimmer devices are used in conjunction with tiny cameras hidden over the top of or off to the side of the ATM screen. These cameras can capture pictures of the keypad as users input their pins and store the pictures for retrieval by criminals.

The stolen account data can later be downloaded, encoded onto blank cards and used to conduct fraudulent transactions.

The camera technique can also be used in combination with methods designed to trap the victim's card in the ATM. In one such method, the scammers insert a loop of xray film or a similar material into the ATM card slot, which will effectively jam the card in the machine when it is entered. The criminals can later retrieve the card by pulling out the hidden loop, retrieve the PIN image from the hidden camera and then easily use the card to steal money from the compromised account.

The banking industry has taken steps to make ATMs more tamper proof and less prone to skimmer techniques. Nevertheless, canny criminals always attempt to keep pace with new security methods by using ever more sophisticated methods.

Always be vigilant when using an ATM. Examine the device carefully and watch for anything that seems unusual or out of the ordinary.  If something does not seen right don't use the ATM. And, always be sure to cover the keypad with your hand when entering your pin. This can stop both hidden cameras and watching criminals from recording your pin.

Finally, it is perhaps pertinent at this point to mention another circulating message about ATMs that is NOT true.  Despite the claims in a long running Internet message, entering your PIN in reverse will NOT call the police.

Last updated: March 27, 2013
First published: March 27, 2013
Research: David White, Brett Christensen
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Europol Gallery
Europol- Card Skimming
ATM Card Skimming and PIN Capturing Customer Awareness Guide
Converted ATM's Steal Bank Customer ID's - ATM Skimming Fraud Warning
Taking a Trip to the ATM? Beware of 'Skimmers'
ATM Fraud Warning - XRAY Film Card Slot Trap
Improved security features, processes to curb ATM skimming
ATM Security Advise Message : Enter PIN In Reverse to Call Police

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