Remember, these scams are typically carried out by professional crime syndicates that have the resources to do whatever it takes to steal your information. It’s their full-time job, after all! We recently warned you about shimmers, a smaller version of the skimmer that can steal both magnetic stripe and chip data from credit and debit cards. Well, the shimmer is not the only hi-tech tool that crooks are using now to steal your personal information. Criminals are also using expertly installed pinhole cameras on ATMs to record your every move! Read on and see why this new scheme is difficult to spot.

Can you spot the secret spy cam on this ATM?

It’s amazing how cameras have shrunk through the years. They’re so cheap and small now, you can place them almost anywhere. Unfortunately, criminals are also using these qualities to their advantage. They are using these virtually invisible cameras to spy on you and siphon out your money!

Police in London recently tweeted an image of one such device and warned the public to be extra cautious when using their account on ATMs. You won’t believe how tiny the camera is! London’s Metropolitan Special Constabulary (MPS Specials) tweeted “Off duty @MPSNewham Special Constable has sniffed out a covert camera recording the pin pad of this ATM in @MPSWestminster. “This is why it is so important to #CoverYourPin when taking out cash.”

An off-duty London policeman spotted the cleverly hidden pinhole camera on an ATM in Westminster. The camera was positioned to spy on customers entering their PIN on the machine’s keypad. The tiny camera and its components were hidden behind a false cover installed on the ATM’s receipt slot. If the criminals manage to get a hold of your card, they can then use your PIN information to make large withdrawals from your account before you can take action. These cameras are so tiny that they’re difficult to spot. All it takes is a very tiny hole for it to accomplish what it’s set to do – capture your PIN.

Other techniques

In conjunction with pinhole cameras, criminals are also installing hidden card skimmers and traps on ATMs. Skimmers are equally small devices that thieves secretly attach on ATMs, gas pumps, cash registers and other places people swipe their credit and debit cards. Once installed and hidden from view, this sneaky bit of tech can steal the magnetic stripe data from your card, making it possible for crooks to clone it. Another devious device is the card trap (also known as a “Lebanese Loop”). When installed on top of an ATM’s real card slot, this contraption will capture your card, making it impossible to take out. Once you depart, the criminals will then retrieve the card from the trap. Combined with your PIN information, these techniques can be devastating.

Spotting an ATM skimmer

Here’s a video of an ATM skimmer in Vienna. Notice how crooks are taking their time to fabricate false fronts that look exactly like the real thing.

How to protect yourself from these techniques:

It’s important to remain vigilant and be proactive against emerging schemes like these. Here are various ways to protect yourself: Shield your PIN – When you’re on an ATM, gas pump or POS system, always assume that someone is watching you. Always cover your hand when typing your PIN. Check for false covers – Always check for false covers. ATMs shouldn’t have loose parts. If anything jiggles, then err on the side of caution and don’t use it. Keep in mind that crooks can also use keypad overlays to capture your PIN. Inspect for tampering – Before putting your card into a reader, always check it for tampering. Look for anything different or misaligned. Check for anything unusual like gaps, holes, glue and even wires. If it looks suspicious, do NOT use the machine. Stay away from stand-alone ATMs – It’s safer to use an ATM that’s well monitored and inspected, like those located inside a bank’s lobby. If you can avoid it, avoid using publicly exposed ATMs. Use contactless systems – When available, use contactless systems such as NFC and the tap-and-go systems of newer EMV chip-based cards. Frequently check bank statements – Criminals are becoming more sophisticated, which means you need to stay vigilant. Stay on top of your bank statements and report any suspicious activity ASAP. Report the theft – If you are a victim of a skimmer, report it immediately to your financial institution.


Credit and debit card skimmers are a perennial modern-day security problem but newer EMV cards are getting harder to clone. However, a new tool called the shimmer has emerged. This one can steal both magnetic stripe and chip data from credit and debit cards. Read more about this devious next-gen device.