Public Service Message: How to Avoid ATM Skimming Frauds

Skimming is an illegal activity that happens when your credit card or ATM/debit card data is stolen during what seems like a normal transaction.

The activity involves installation of an electronic device, usually undetectable by the cardholder, which secretly captures the data stored on the magnetic strip of the card as it is inserted into an ATM or swiped at a retail outlet for making some payment.

Criminals can easily copy stolen data to a counterfeit card and use your card to make as many transactions they can

Criminals can then encode the stolen card data onto a counterfeit blank card and rapidly use it to withdraw money or make purchases until detected by the cardholder. Skimming mostly occurs at isolated ATMs or at retail outlets that process card payments, particularly restaurants, petrol pumps etc.

It is difficult for an average person to detect skimming devices as criminals creatively apply new technologies and techniques to defraud people. However, in the public interest especially the financial consumers, State Bank of Pakistan recommends following tips that may minimize the chances of becoming a victim to skimming fraud.

  • Always inspect the ATM or card reader available at any retail outlet before using them. If you suspect tampering or see anything loose, crooked or damaged, immediately report it to the concerned bank.
  • If possible, use ATMs in well-lit public areas at an inside location as such ATMs are less accessible for criminals to install skimmers.
  • Don’t use an ATM with unusual signage or instructions, such as telling you to enter your PIN twice to complete the transaction.
  • Before you insert your card in an ATM, put your hand on the slot and wiggle it. ATM without skimmers will not wiggle at all. If there is a skimmer, the slot will seem loose and may even pop off.
  • While entering PIN, always block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording the numbers being punched.
  • Don’t handover your credit card or ATM/debit card to other persons. This action of yours may reduce the onus of the bank in case of fraud.
  • Always keep your card in sight, whether you are paying at a restaurant, petrol pump, or elsewhere. Criminals are quick and it takes just a second to slot your card into one of their skimming devices.
  • Keep all transaction receipts safely so you can verify them carefully against bank statements. When discarding, be sure to properly shred or destroy all transaction receipts.
  • It would be in your best interest to subscribe alert services being offered by the card issuing bank such as SMS, phone call or email alerts etc.

Information courtesy of the State Bank of Pakistan