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Protect Yourself from ATM Card Skimming

We have received reports of active card skimming at convenience store ATMs across the country, including several locations in Massachusetts. Skimming is the use of a device to illegally collect magnetic stripe information from credit, debit and ATM cards. The information collected is used by identity thieves to create counterfeit cards, which can be used to make fraudulent purchases or withdrawals.

Most skimming incidents occur when a fraudster places a malicious card reading device over or near the actual card reader on a payment terminal such as an ATM, gas pump or vending machine. In some cases, the fraudster will also add a microscopic camera or key logging device to capture more information, such as the card’s personal identification number (PIN) or security code.

As skimming devices become more sophisticated, it has grown difficult to tell if a terminal has been tampered with. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid or mitigate fraud resulting from skimming:

  • Avoid suspicious or unfamiliar terminals whenever possible. Skimming devices need to be manually installed, so the fraudster is likely to target less visible locations.
  • Inspect the terminal and shield the pin pad when using your card. If you notice any obvious signs of tampering do not insert your card. A few things to look for:
    • Glue or adhesive marks on or surrounding the card reader;
    • Unusual brochure holders or plastic panels added above or around the ATM screen that could contain a camera to capture your PIN;
    • Unusual feeling keyboard or a keyboard that appears to sit higher than usual. This may indicate a key logger device has been adhered to the actual keyboard in an attempt to capture your PIN.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and proximity to others.
  • Monitor your accounts. The quicker fraudulent transactions are detected, the sooner you and your financial institution can help protect your identity and your accounts. Monitor your accounts regularly using online, mobile or telephone banking and notify your financial institution immediately if you suspect fraud on your accounts.

If you locate a skimming device, immediately contact local law enforcement to report it. If you fall victim to ATM skimming or notice any suspicious activity on your Merrimack County Savings Bank accounts, please contact us as soon as possible.

Krebs Security has an excellent article online with more information on card skimming and pictures of skimming devices. You can read it at:

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