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Protect Against Card Skimming Devices

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Criminals are now using a new breed of card skimming devices, placing the devices on everything from ATMs to gas pumps. These devices are being found not only throughout the US, but also around the world.
Some of these skimmers, known as “Shimmer Devices” or “Deep Insertion Skimming Devices” are some of the latest devices being used by financial criminals; which are proving to be elusive, since they can be virtually undetectable.

NCR, a long-time client of TSE, is one of the World’s leading manufacturers and operators of ATMs. They too are seeing many more incidents involving these Deep Insert Skimmers, which are incredibly difficult to detect and offer criminals an advantage.

Many of these new-generation devices fit deep inside a card slot with no trace or clue on how they got there – as it seamlessly integrates into an already existing design. To date, the majority of anti-skimming technology has exhibited some difficulty in detecting these devices, mainly due to their placement so far down within the machine.

Here's five things you can do to lessen the chance of enduring a card skimming incident.

Table of Contents

1. These Devices Can Be Placed Anywhere - Not Just an ATM

With the rise in popularity of point-of-sale (POS) machines, card skimmers have become an increasingly common sight. A variety of devices are placed inside, over top of, or very near these machines in order to steal customers’ card information.

Locations like gas stations and convenience stores, self serve car washes, parking payment machines, and similar locations where you must swipe or insert your card have become an increasingly popular location for criminals to place these devices.

2. Never Use a Machine that Appears It Has Been Tampered With

It’s important to never use an ATM or other card-payment machine if it appears that someone has tampered with the machine in any way. Whether you believe some of the buttons feel loose or things just look off-kilter – it’s best just to not use that particular machine at all. Instead, look for and find another one that looks normal and is working correctly.

Criminals will go to incredible lengths when engaging in card theft activities. This includes carefully disguising some larger devices (such as those that fit over the top of the existing card reader) and placing shimmer and deep insertion simmers inside of the card slot along with a camera system.

The creativity of the criminals who not only construct these devices but place them on or within machines makes these devices incredibly difficult to detect and extremely dangerous for unsuspecting people who attempt to use them. Be sure to inspect each ATM (and any point-of-sale device) before inserting or swiping your card. If something looks out of place, don’t take an unnecessary risk.

3. Know Where Skimming Devices Have Been Found

An excellent approach to protecting yourself against these card-based financial crimes is by knowing where skimming devices have been found in the past. Criminals (just like anyone else) have areas where they’re most comfortable.

Virtually no criminal wants to get caught when engaging in their seedy activities, but even less so when they’re involved in activities like this. Accordingly, there is a higher probability of these dirtbags not venturing outside of their comfort zone.

Increased vigilance (or outright avoidance) at specific locations or areas where devices have been found is an easy way to reduce the chance of encountering a skimmer.

4. Shield The View Of Your Card and PIN at All Times

A simple way to avoid falling victim to a skimming device attached to an ATM and other point-of-sale machines is by shielding the view of your card itself as well as your PIN number at all times while using the machine.

Not only does this prevent a camera from being able to capture an image of your card, but criminals will not easily be able to record your PIN number if you shield your keypad with your hand or another object. This can make these skimming devices virtually useless if the criminal is unable to steal all the needed information.

5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It’s vital to maintain good situational awareness, paying attention to your surroundings. Some skimming devices wirelessly transmit card data, video, and other information to criminals via a wireless or Bluetooth connection in real-time. Due to the size and nature of these devices, the range is often very short, requiring the criminals to remain close.

Also, by keeping a watchful eye on your surroundings, you may notice a person or vehicle loitering or “hanging around” an ATM or other machine with a card reader. These may be persons who are watching for possible victims who aren’t paying close attention while entering in their personal identification numbers at the ATM or other point-of-sale card reader.

If you notice anything suspicious, immediately leave the area, and if you believe that you are being watched or followed, dial 911 immediately as you leave the area. Report anything you found to be suspicious to the appropriate authorities once you’ve left the area and are safe.

Tri State Enforcement Regional Authority is a multistate organization that supplies mission-critical public safety services, special police services, advanced protective security and armed guard services, court and judicial services, and related law enforcement and emergency services; for and on behalf of public, private, and government sector markets through cooperative and service contract agreements.

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