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ATM Security: Strategies to Combat Skimming and Fraud


Skimming and Fraud Article


ATM skimming and fraud incidents account for 8 out of 10 service calls, according to Owen Wild, Sr. Director Product and Industry Marketing at NCR Atleos. The time and resources spent on managing these fraud calls are becoming more of a burden on financial institutions and costing them big time.  

ATM security risks are presenting an ongoing challenge for banks, credit unions, and their consumers. Recent discussions among industry experts have shed light on the evolving tactics used by fraudsters, offering valuable insights into emerging trends and proactive strategies to mitigate risks. 


Understanding Today’s ATM Skimming Landscape 

Skimming, once characterized by overlay devices discreetly placed over ATM components, has evolved into a sophisticated operation employing deep insert skimmers and ingenious camouflage techniques. These devices seamlessly integrate into ATM card readers, making them difficult to detect during routine inspections. 

A recent case discussed with security experts highlighted the challenge posed by deep insert skimmers. Despite regular maintenance checks, a device installed in an ATM in a busy urban area went undetected for weeks, underscoring the need for enhanced inspection protocols. 


The Camouflage of ATM Fraud 

Fraudsters have become increasingly adept at camouflaging their illicit devices to evade detection. They often run major crime operations using ATM skimming and other fraud devices purchased online from overseas. Clear plexiglass cameras and 3D-printed overlays mimic legitimate ATM components, making them virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. 

Instances have been reported where skimming devices were concealed within seemingly innocuous elements, such as light bars atop ATMs or PIN cameras mounted on the fascia with the same coloring and credit card and banking logos as the real ATM has. Only through meticulous scrutiny were technicians able to uncover these covert devices, highlighting the importance of vigilance and consistent inspections. 


ATM Fraud Countermeasures 

In response to escalating threats, technological innovations have emerged as a crucial line of defense against skimming. Active shielding bezels, anti-skimming kits, and alarm-equipped trim pieces offer proactive defense mechanisms, triggering alerts upon tampering attempts. 

Successful cases have been documented where active shielding bezels thwarted skimming attempts at remote ATM locations. These devices, when tampered with, triggered alarms, enabling authorities to apprehend perpetrators before any data could be compromised. 


The Human Factor 

Despite technological advancements, human vigilance remains indispensable in combating skimming. Routine inspections, coupled with a culture of suspicion towards unfamiliar elements, play a pivotal role in thwarting fraudsters' efforts. 

Well-trained personnel have been instrumental in detecting and reporting suspicious activities promptly, preventing potential fraud from occurring. Staff training programs are essential in maintaining ATM security and fostering a proactive approach to fraud prevention. You can download FTSI’s Daily ATM Inspection Checklist here


Future ATM Skimming and Fraud Trends 

As discussions turn towards future trends, industry experts are emphasizing the need for continuous adaptation and innovation. While contactless technology shows promise in reducing skimming risks, ongoing vigilance and collaboration are paramount. 

Research into biometric authentication methods offers hope for a future where physical cards are rendered obsolete, potentially eliminating the risk of skimming altogether. With the elimination of mag stripes, ATM skimming will be essentially obsolete. Such advancements hold the key to a proactive approach to ATM security, where threats are identified and mitigated before they can be exploited. Until then, financial institutions need to stay up-to-date with trends and mitigation techniques. 

ATM skimming remains a significant and growing threat in the financial services sector, requiring a multifaceted approach to mitigation. By understanding emerging trends, leveraging technological advancements, and fostering a culture of vigilance, industry stakeholders can stay ahead in the ongoing battle against financial fraud. 


> Replay the live discussion with NCR Atleos: ATM Skimming Trends and Mitigation Best Practices <


In conclusion, safeguarding ATM security demands a comprehensive strategy that combines technological innovation with human vigilance. As skimming tactics evolve, so must our defenses, with a proactive stance that anticipates and counters emerging threats. Through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to rigorous inspection protocols, the financial industry can fortify its defenses against skimming and uphold the integrity of ATM transactions for years to come.