ATM "skimming" is a common practice of thieves in the business of stealing financial data. Find out how to protect your financial information, and spot common skimming techniques on ATM machines.

The Skinny on ATM Skimmers

Do you notice anything wrong with the below image of an ATM pin pad?

Image of an ATM pin pad and cash dispenser slot
Image originally published at

If you noticed the small hole in the upper right of the dark gray cash dispenser, you would be correct. The hole contains a small camera, meant to record the PIN number during an ATM transaction.

All quizzes aside, in tandem with a small camera the thieves install a fake card skimmer over the existing ATM card acceptance slot to collect the actual card numbers. See the example below:

Image of a card skimmer fake on an ATM machine
Photo originally published at

These types of skimmers, along with other novel solutions that thieves dream up, are increasingly prevalent across the U.S. Other types of skimmers are even thinner and harder to detect, and slip directly into the card reading slot.

Here’s another clever skimming device. The camera is included on the fake card reader; you can see the small hole on the bottom left, pointed towards the pin pad.

four images of a skimming device found on an atm
Image originally published on

How to protect yourself from skimming fraud

If you notice anything suspicious about an ATM machine, a smart move is to locate a different ATM. If you are feeling investigative, check for holes, or give a gentle tug to the card acceptance slot.

The simplest way to protect yourself is to cover your hand when you enter your PIN. Without video of the PIN entry, thieves cannot fraudulently use your card number. There is a risk of a PIN-pad overlay device being used, but those are rare and much more difficult for thieves to implement.

If you find that you are experiencing fraud on your account from a stolen card and PIN number:

  • Call 1-907-459-5900 during business hours
  • Call 1-866-875-6807 after regular business hours

You must report the fraud within 60 days of the statement issue date. Once the report is received, these requests are submitted to VISA, who can take 45 days or longer to resolve the claim.

Protecting your financial information is important to us, and we take necessary steps to provide state of the art security, plus here’s more information on how you can protect yourself.