Skip nav to main content.
Zing Logo and Homepage Link
Zing Logo
Zing Logo

All You Need to Know About ATM Skimmers

Imagine this: You’re prepared to take out money from your local ATM. You might be unaware that ATM skimmers are a menace that lurks just beneath the surface. Your financial security could be jeopardized by these undercover gadgets before you can say “cash withdrawal.” But don’t worry! We’ll break down the world of ATM skimmers below, handing you all the information you need to be vigilant and safeguard your hard-earned cash.

What Exactly Are ATM Skimmers?

Imagine going to the ATM and discovering a “normal looking” PIN pad and card reader, but you’re unaware, that these are crafty imposters are put there by con artists. An ATM skimmer is a device that criminals attach to ATM machines to secretly collect your card information as you use the ATM.

How Do ATM Skimmers Work?

ATM skimmers come in all shapes and sizes, but they typically consist of two parts: a card reader and a hidden camera. The card reader reads your card’s magnetic stripe data, while the camera records you entering your PIN. The stolen information is later used to make unauthorized withdrawals or purchases.

How to Spot ATM Skimmers

The good news is that ATM skimmers aren’t invincible. There are ways to spot them if you know what to look for. Here are some telltale signs that an ATM might be compromised:

  1. Check for Loose Parts: Give the card reader a gentle wiggle. If it feels loose, it might be a skimmer.
  2. Inspect the PIN Pad: Look for any unusual overlays, keypads that appear raised, or adhesive residue around the keypad area.
  3. Cover Your PIN: Use your other hand or an object to shield your PIN entry from prying cameras.
  4. Trust Your Instincts: If something about the ATM seems off or suspicious, don’t use it. Visit another ATM or inform the bank.

How to Protect Yourself

Now that you know how to spot ATM skimmers, here are some tips to protect yourself from falling victim:

  1. Use ATMs in Well-Lit Areas: Criminals prefer to work in the shadows. Choosing well-lit locations can deter them.
  2. Choose Credit Union-Owned ATMs: Opt for ATMs located inside banks or reputable financial institutions. They are less likely to be compromised. Take a look at all our shared ATMs.
  3. Regularly Monitor Your Accounts: Keep a close eye on your bank statements and online transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  4. Cover Your PIN: Always shield your PIN, even if you don’t see anything suspicious at the ATM.
  5. Be Cautious of Card Slots: If the card slot looks odd, try using a different ATM or visiting the bank.

What to Do if You Suspect an ATM Skimmer

If you believe you’ve encountered an ATM skimmer or suspect your card information may have been compromised, act swiftly:

  1. Contact Your Credit Union: Report the incident to us or credit union immediately.
  2. Change Your PIN: Change your PIN and request a new card from your credit union.
  3. File a Police Report: In more severe cases, contact your local law enforcement agency to report the incident.

ATM skimmers may be out there, but with a keen eye and a few precautionary steps, you can minimize your risk. Your financial well-being is worth protecting, and awareness is your best defense against these sneaky devices. So, stay safe, keep a watchful eye, and continue to enjoy the convenience of using ATMs with peace of mind!

Here’s are two examples of skimmers that were placed on a ATM card reader.

atm skimmer how to spot them

(photo courtesy from Northwest Community Credit Union)


(photo courtesy from Northwest Community Credit Union)