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ATM Skimmers Increased Attack on Bank ATMs

by Dave on December 28, 2010

Graph of changes in ATM Skimming attacksATM skimming is the practice of adding concealed technology to ATMs to capture bank account numbers, usernames and passwords. The point is to hijack bank accounts and clean them out before the customer is even aware of a problem.

The FICO Banking Analytics Blog reports that the time lag between an ATM skimmer attack and the subsequent unauthorized account withdrawals/purchases has decreased from about 30 days in 1999 to just hours in 2010. (

ATM skimming has existed for years on a small scale. Skimmers attack both retail points-of-sale (POS) and ATMs, both bank-owned and non-bank. As the graphic above shows, the focus of these criminals has shifted recently. Notice that beginning in 2004, these criminals were working hard on POS fraud. Late in 2009 however, their focus began to shift to ATM machines and specifically bank-owned ATMs. According to this article ( by the Wall Street Journal, 80% of the credit card fraud during the first half of 2010 occurred on bank-owned ATMs.

That doesn’t mean POS attacks have stopped. This past October, the Aldi supermarket chain reported that in-store payment terminals in 11 states had been compromised.  During the last half of 2009 the payment terminals of Hancock Fabric stores in several states were also compromised.

Covering an ATM PIN numberWhat can you do to avoid ATM  attacks? The WSJ article above offers the following good advice:
- Cover your PIN so cameras cannot capture it.
- Use indoor and less isolated ATMS as they’re less likely to be tampered with.
- Check your account balance on a regular basis or set up text or e-mail alerts on balances.
- Add your bank and credit card’s customer service numbers – just in case.
- Make sure your contact info at the bank/credit card companies is current.

Related posts:

  1. ATM Skimmers – Hi-Tech Crime Wave
  2. Federal Reserve Bank Hacked
  3. Busted! Massive Cyber Crime Ring Taken Down

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