Every year sophisticated thieves steal millions of dollars from consumers by “skimming” their personal account information. Skimming, sometimes called “card cloning,” involves a thief installing a magnetic card reader, or skimmer, over the actual card reader at an ATM or gas pump.
When you swipe your card, the skimming device steals the information and transmits it to a remote computer. The typical ATM skimmer is a device smaller than a deck of cards that fits over the existing card reader.
Most of the time, the attackers will also place a hidden camera somewhere in the vicinity with a view of the number 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.
Luckily, you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim: