ATM skimming is on the rise in Springfield, and there are a number of steps you can take to protect your card number, your PIN and your money from would-be thieves.

What is Skimming?

Skimming is a process in which a device affixed to an ATM, gas station card reader or postage stamp kiosk that allows criminals to steal your financial data and your money. 

Most of the time, thieves will also place a hidden camera somewhere in the vicinity with a view of the key pad in order to record personal identification numbers. The camera may be in the card reader, mounted at the top of the ATM, or even just to the side inside a plastic case holding brochures. Some criminals may install a fake PIN pad over the actual keyboard to capture the PIN directly, bypassing the need for a camera.

What to Look For

Check for obvious signs of tampering on the ATM, on the card reader itself, near the speakers, the screen, and the keypad. If something looks different, such as a different color or material, graphics that aren't aligned correctly, or anything else that doesn't look right, don't use the ATM.You should also push and pull at everything. ATMs are solidly constructed and generally don't have any loose parts.

Safety Tips

If the ATM or card reader seems safe, insert the card with a bit of a wiggle to the motion. A card skimmer needs the stripe to go in a single motion so it can read the data correctly. Wiggling the card as you enter it in the slot won't interfere with your transaction, but it may foil a skimmer.

Another important tip is to cover your hand when you enter the number sequence on the PIN pad. This will reduce the chances that a camera will capture your PIN.

Some thieves are now experimenting with a new type of wiretapping device that can steal your account numbers without needing access to your card’s magnetic strip. Investigative reporter Brian Krebs explained the details of how the new device works on his blog Krebs on Security. Criminals drill a small hole into the front of an ATM machine where the “insert card” decal is located. They then feed a wire into the machine using a metal rod to tap the ATM’s existing card reader. A new decal is pasted over the hole, making the crime difficult to detect.

Another type of device called the “insert transmit skimmer,” which is made up of two plates that fit directly in an ATM card reader. The tiny device reads debit cards and transmits the stolen information to a nearby receiving device. Like traditional skimmers, both of these newer devices require a hidden camera for thieves to steal your PIN, so cover the keypad as you type in your PIN.

Check Your Account Statements

Remember to check your account statements regularly to identify fraudulent transactions, and if you find any, report them to the credit union immediately. Criminals may use stolen card details infrequently to minimize the chances that a bank or credit union will detect unusual transactions.

If you don't already use online or mobile banking, it's worth considering. Logging in on a daily or weekly basis will help you to identify fraudulent transactions quickly and report them much sooner.


If you have questions or concerns about ATM skimming, contact us at 417.865.3912 or email us at today.