ATM green and blue anti-skimming devices are coming…

Having just returned from a trip to Spain, I happened to notice an unusual green plastic device protruding out of the card slot (click on the image opposite to expand). Closer inspection of the plastic card slot device and you can see this is a genuine anti-skimming tool – I checked in the bank because even I couldn’t tell if it was a skimmer 🙁 These appear as either blue or green semi-transparent plastic castings which claim to stop the ATM thieves from attaching card skimming devices.

I’m not convinced these plastic casings are the answer (I’ve yet to see them here in the UK, but I understand they can be found in Canada, the US and some European countries). I’ve seen plastic casing removed and replaced with battery-operated skimmers which if fully charged will last for a few days. No one would really know the difference (as I explained above). I’m sure if the banks hardwired the Bank Identification Numbers (BIN) into the card chip then these skimmers wouldn’t work. Maybe a lesson for our banks to be learnt from our Russian banking friends.

So what if you notice one of these anti-skimming devices but are not sure it is genuine? Firstly I suggest you only use an ATM adjoining or inside a bank and always make sure if possible that the ATM is monitored and in a secure area – just look out for cameras if you are not sure.

Another option might be to use a prepaid card if your are on holiday. These cards are useful because you only lose what is loaded onto them. And as I always say ONLY ever use bank ATMs rather than ATMs at other locations i.e. petrol and railway stations.

Safe surfing folks!

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6 Responses to ATM green and blue anti-skimming devices are coming…

  1. Penny says:

    On Friday I went to a cashpoint machine in a rather dubious part of town. The cashpoint machine had a green plastic “thingy” sticking out of it and as I put my card in I said to my friend “that looks funny”. It looked very much like the anti skimmer device in your picture. It was also a bit wobbly.

    Today (Monday) the bank called me. My card had been used for an internet payment of £15 to a telephone company I do not use. Fraud. No real damage was done thanks to an alert bank but it is alarming anyway. I can’t be sure that my card was skimmed by a green plastic “thingy” of course, but I shall be much more cautious in future.

    Note to self: If a cashpoint machine looks strange enough that I say “oo, that looks funny!” go somewhere else!

    • Julian says:

      #Penny# It can be very difficult to tell as you rightly point out. After further investigation on these casings, if the casings are loose (or can be pulled off easily) it’s likely to be a skimmer. Luckily, the banks are also improving their detection and remediation techniques with regard this type of fraud. Pleased the bank alerted you! Did they refund you? Thanks also for the ‘note to self’ – very true 🙂

      • Penny says:

        Yes, the bank alerted me and they blocked the transaction when I confirmed it was not a transaction I had made. They are pretty good at picking these things up. Not quite sure how they do it. I hope it wasn’t because a few hundred other people had already lost money in the same way.

        • Julian says:

          #Penny# Good to hear. They are using behaviour-analysis software for fraud detection which helps determine whether a transaction is fraudulent. As for others being victims – most likely. The skimmers are only ever present for a short time and then the fraudsters move on to new ATM targets. I’ve never been 100% behind chip and pin. In fact “pattern-based chip and pin” would be better. By this I mean, you remember a unique pattern from a grid of numbers – it’s pretty much impossible to break and easy to remember 🙂

          • Penny says:

            I never thought the use of pins was much cop. I can’t forge my husband’s signature but I know his pin number. I also know my mother’s pin number and the pin numbers of several friends. Just because I have seen them use their cards so often – I haven’t made any deliberate effort to learn them.

            Most people are not good at forging a signature. It might be easy enough to do given time and privacy but it’s pretty hard to do quickly in a shop unless you’re a professional. I think some sort of signature recognition system would be cool. Even a good forger would have trouble using exactly the same pressure and finger movements as the real person. It would take some calibration to account for variation I suppose. But it doesn’t seem impossible.

            My husband (who is an ubergeek) uses patterns for passwords. The only problem is that when the bank ask him for “the 4th letter of your password” he stumbles. He’s not sure if it’s a j or an asterisk. It’s not a passWORD that is easily remembered, he has to work out what his 4th keystroke is. I use acronyms. Works for me.

  2. Z.San says:

    ECS(Enhanced Card Security) is a proper anti-skimming solution for NCR-Wincor-Diebold ATMs against to Skimmers.

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