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Mumbai Police’s latest headache: ATM skimming explained

Mumbai Police’s latest headache

Even as you’re reading this, Mumbai cops are knee-deep in investigating the recent instance, wherein 37 bank accounts were compromised by miscreants by employing ATM skimming. If you haven’t heard of ATM skimming so far, you have a good reason to educate yourself about it now.


Phishing, identity theft, cloning, skimming – cybercrime may have different names, but it has one common intent, to rob you of your confidential data and precious belongings. While there is considerable awareness in the market about the dangers of cybercrime and what one should do to protect what’s confidential, the number of victims it manages to claim is simply baffling.

Beware! (Image credit: Getty Images)

Beware!ATM skimming

ATM skimming is a more sophisticated form of ATM theft, and cyber-thieves employ hidden electronics to steal personal details that are stored on the card’s magnetic strip and also record the PIN that the victim enters. That said, it is clear that it takes two techniques to work well for a skimming attempt to be successful. The thief places a card reader on the ATM’s card slot. The next time an unsuspecting victim inserts his card in that ATM’s slot, what he does not realise is that he is actually inserting it into the fake card reader slot. The next obvious occurrence in this chain is that the reader scans all information that is stored on the card’s magnetic strip. Strike one dealt.


While getting all details stored on one’s card is good deal of information in itself, it still takes the PIN to make the attempt successful. To obtain PINs punched in by unsuspecting users, thieves install hidden cameras, either in the vicinity of the ATM or on it. These cameras are positioned such that they give the miscreant a good view of the ATM keypad. Strike two dealt.

ATM users on their part can benefit a great deal by exercising caution. Upon entering the premises of the ATM, one ought to inspect the surrounding for any anomalies – if they’re alert enough, they may just be able to save their precious, hard-earned money and that of others.