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Skimming It: Preventing ATM & Identity Theft

by Dave

ATM skimming is a growing concern within the evolving threat of identity theft. Victims of ATM skimming usually notice the problem after they face identity theft and find their bank account drained of funds. This act of theft can be prevented if talked about and if consumers are educated on what to look out for. By learning some simple facts and tips to avoid becoming a victim, it is possible to prevent future crimes.

Basics of Skimming

According to the FBI website, ATM skimming occurs when a criminal attaches devices to read account information from a card and send the data to a computer or cell phone. Beyond the device attached to the machine, criminals also use a hidden camera to record the PIN number on the account. Additionally, consumers often do not notice the skimming device because it is made to look like part of the ATM machine. The façade of the of the device blends in with the normal card reader, which makes it difficult to detect.

Taking Protective Measures

While it is hard to identify certain skimming machines, PC World states it is possible to take protective measures to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Looking carefully at any ATM machine before using it will reduce the risk of becoming a victim of ATM skimming. Any consumer who notices something odd about an ATM machine should report it to the bank, gas station or other location where the machine is located. The authorities can look for the equipment and remove it to prevent further victims.

Investing in fraud protection, such as Lifelock, is another protective measure that will greatly reduce the risk of this form of theft. Identity theft protection services are becoming more personalized for consumers as this very distinct threat is evolving. Understanding how it works and what to look for are good rules of thumb for these services as well as for consumers. Lifelock.com will constantly monitor your personal information and keep you informed of even the slightest possible hint of tampering. According to Equifax.co.uk, “More than £1.6 million worth of card fraud occurs on UK plastic cards every day. A fraudulent transaction takes place every eight seconds.”


Beyond simply looking for odd devices and taking measures to keep track of activity on the account, it is also important to ensure the PIN number is safe. Without the PIN number, thieves are not able to use the account information because all ATM machines and most stores will require the use of a PIN when using an ATM card or debit card.

Keeping track of accounts on a regular basis will also help to keep you informed. While fraud protection will provide an alert about suspicious activities, smart thieves will use the information sparingly to avoid being caught. This means that keeping up with spending and always paying attention to odd purchases will help out immensely.

The theft of identity is a growing concern for many consumers, but it is also avoidable. Protecting your personal information is possible, and keeping your finances where they should be is just as attainable. Consumers do not need to become the victim of a crime when protective solutions are available to help.

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