ATM Scam

Photo credit: Bored Panda

ATM skimmers are one thing, but sometimes, the entire machine just looks different – perhaps it has an unfamiliar layout or appears off-colored than the same bank’s own ATMs next to it. While skilled criminals are adept at placing card or cash capture devices and PIN compromise devices in or around ATMs, some go the extra mile to install false fronts that blend right in with its surroundings. Continue reading to see a few more ATM scams to watch out for before withdrawing any cash.

5. Classic Skimmer

ATM Scam

A strangely bulky card insert slot might suggest a ‘skimmer,’ or a tool attached to the card slot on an ATM and secretly swipes your card details while you’re making a withdrawal – and many times, it’s indistinguishable from the real card reader. Keep an eye out for anything that seems to cover the arrow heads that point toward the card slot – there should be a slight gap between the arrows and the card insert point. Also look for any misaligned or even misprinted stickers, as this is often an attempt to cover up where a compromise device has been installed. Last, but not least, try wiggling the card reader.

4. Fake PIN Pad

ATM Scam

If the PIN pad feels loose, thick, or sponge-like, then it may not be authentic. This longstanding method of capturing PINs is officially known as a ‘PIN-pad overlay’ – the true number keypad is covered by a counterfeit one such that, although pressing the buttons correctly causes the ATM to register your PIN, it is simultaneously being captured by the criminal. Sometimes this information is even instantaneously being transferred by WiFi to a waiting accomplice to record and use later.

3. Blocked Card Slot

ATM Scam

A unusually loose or blocked card slot may suggest the presence of a so-called ‘Lebanese Loop,’ a scam in which thieves place a tiny plastic or metal sleeve or barb into the card reader so that, when you try to withdraw money, your card is caught in the machine. The ATM will continue to ask for a PIN as usual but won’t release the card, which means the funds are not dispensed.

2. Cash Trap

ATM Scam

While most card trapping incidents take place outside normal banking hours with initial fraudulent usage taking place within 10 minutes of the card capture, there’s a twist on this attack that involves ‘cash traps’. These are sometimes claw-like contraptions that thieves insert into the cash-dispensing slot which are capable of capturing or skimming some of the dispensed bills. However, not all cash trap devices are made to be inserted into the machine. Some are fit directly onto the face of a cash dispenser.

1. Pinhole Cameras

ATM Scam

Tiny ‘pinhole cameras’ have been installed on ATMs by thieves around the world, and are normally hidden by a false casing on the machine. They’re basically used to film people putting in their PIN numbers, and used in conjunction with skimmers.


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