Consumer Advisory: ATM and credit card skimming prevention



Colorado Banking Commissioner offers four tips to prevent “skimming” attacks


DENVER - (Sept. 16, 2015) -  Skimming is a common way for cyber-criminals to steal your money. When you use your debit or credit card at a gas station pump, withdraw cash from an ATM, or use your card in a ticket kiosk or vending machine, you are at risk. Criminals install portable card readers called skimmers onto these types of terminals so that they can collect your data off your card's magnetic stripe. Consumers are advised to be alert and aware of skimming tactics and to arm themselves with information to be better protected from skimming.

1. Check for Tampering 

At any ATM, check for signs of tampering or remote installations that don’t appear part of the machine (such as a small camera or wires that appear to be out of place). Look on the card reader and near the speakers. The keyboard should not have a film or cover on it or be more than one piece. There shouldn’t be any loose parts if you give a pull on something that protrudes, like the card reader. Even if these are in check, if something just doesn't feel right about an ATM, don't use it. 

2. Wiggle and Cover

A good practice to get into is to wiggle your card a bit as you swipe it or push it into the reader. Skimmers reportedly have a harder time collecting the data because of the wiggle motion. You can also give a wiggle to the card reader mechanism, keypad and other parts to make sure nothing is loose. Additionally, always use a cover – your hand, your phone, a piece of paper – as you type in your PIN.

3. Use Indoor ATMs

High traffic areas with ATMs inside banks and grocery stores are typically safer than outdoor terminals. Also, the risks for skimming are higher on the weekends because criminals will install the skimmers on Saturdays or Sundays and then remove them before banks open on Monday. Be aware that today’s criminals are sophisticated and no ATM is completely safe.

4. Always Report It

Reporting suspicious activity or theft to your card issuer or bank as soon as possible is paramount to not being held liable to the amount you might lose if you fall victim to an ATM skimming attack. Most financial institutions have a zero liability policy that protect their customers, but there is still a process that needs to be followed. The sooner you report fraudulent activity the better!

“While banks take important measures to keep ATMs secure, ultimately the best practice to protect your credit and your money and avoid becoming a victim is to be informed and prepared,” said State Banking Commissioner, Chris Myklebust. “Talk to your bank about their policies regarding fraudulent transactions, including skimming. Then have a list of action items ready so that you can take charge of the situation immediately if necessary.”

The Division of Banking at the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) protects the public interest and preserves public trust in the Colorado banking industry by regulating the business of state-chartered commercial banks and trust companies, state licensed money transmitters, and enforcing the Public Deposit Protection Act. For more information visit

Additional Resources:

FBI graphic on how skimming works:

Colorado Attorney General - Stop Fraud Colorado:

About DORA
The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675

Media Contact:
Rebecca Laurie
Department of Regulatory Agencies
p: 303-894-2338 | c: 720-724-0612