Kent Police has issued a warning after three reports of skimming devices on isle cash machines in the past week.
The device is placed over the money tray so when a person inserts their PIN number and requests the cash, the money is then ‘trapped’ behind the fake frontage. There is usually a person nearby, who waits for the person to leave, then removes the frontage, takes the cash, and replaces the device for the next unsuspecting customer.
On the three occasions in Thanet, the member of the public has been vigilant and removed the frontage, then informed the bank and police.
What is “Skimming”?
Skimming involves the use of a card reading device and a tiny camera. A card reading device or ‘skimmer’ is fitted over the top of the ATM’s card slot. The unsuspecting victim puts their card into the card slot where it’s read by both the card reader and the ATM. The transaction takes place quite normally, but the PIN input is recorded by a disguised miniature camera located above the keypad. The victim takes their cash and returned card and leaves without realising what has happened.
How to Check for a Skimmer
Although skimmers can be hard to spot, it’s possible to identify a skimming device.
Before using an ATM, check for alignment issues between the card reader and the panel underneath it. Skimmers are often placed on top of the actual card reader making it stick out at an odd angle or cover arrows in a panel. Compare the card reader to other ATM’s and look for any differences.
A physical inspection of a card reader and keypad can often reveal fraudulent devices. Feel around the reader and try to wiggle it to see if it can easily come out of place.
Authentic card readers are robustly manufactured, meaning if any part of the card reader can easily move around, then it’s probably been installed illegally by a thief. If the buttons on an ATM’s keypad are too hard to push, don’t use that ATM and try another one.
How to Avoid Card Skimmers
Stay vigilant when using a credit card and when withdrawing cash at an ATM. If any part of a card reader looks suspicious, pay for your items inside with the cashier, and let them know there may be a skimmer installed at the ATM. Try to only use official bank ATM’s instead of nonbank ATM’s that are often found inside/outside convenience stores. Cover fingers with the other hand while entering a pin to block potential cameras.