The Centurion Record recently reported that there has been an increase in card skimming and related fraud at ATMs in the area.
According to the report, criminals are placing devices into the ATM card slot which then read a card’s sensitive information – then used for card cloning.
The criminals then use the cloned cards to withdraw money from their victim’s accounts.
“The card skimmer will withdraw an amount shortly before midnight and then wait a few minutes. A second withdrawal is then made on the renewed daily limit,” the report said.
Because most people are asleep at this time they only find out about the stolen money when they wake up the next morning and check their bank messages.
ATM card skimming
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned citizens to be vigilant when using their cards at ATMs so as to avoid card skimming.
Card skimming devices are used to copy card information on the magnetic strip when a customer inserts the card into the ATM.
These devices typically sit on top of the ATM card slot, and are designed to ensure that they blend in with the “look and feel” of ATMs, making them difficult to detect.
The following image illustrates how card skimming at an ATM typically works.
Card skimming device installation
ATM card skimmer installed
ATM-mounted card skimming devices
ATM-mounted card skimming devices are difficult to recognise as they are manufactured to match the look of the ATM.
Before you withdraw money at an ATM, you should always inspect the machine and cover the number pad with your free hand when entering your PIN.
Here are some commonly-used ATM-mounted card skimming devices.
Stealing your PIN at an ATM
There are many ways which criminals can steal your PIN at an ATM – looking over your shoulder, installing a small camera, and even installing a fake keypad.
The first two are widely used in South Africa, but according to Sabric they have only recorded one incident where a fake keypad was recovered from an ATM.
However, just like with card skimming devices, anyone withdrawing money from an ATM should be on the lookout for shoulder surfers, small cameras, and fake keypads.
Check for ATM card skimming devices
Sabric provided a sample of some of the most common card skimming devices that are attached to ATMs in South Africa.
Users are advised to look for these devices and whether an ATM has been tampered with before withdrawing money.