Q & A with Sarah Williford, Information Systems Support with Solidarity


What is skimming?
Skimming is when scammers illegally install devices on ATMs and other point-of-sale (POS) terminals, like gas pump card readers. They steal information by exploiting victims and their accounts.

What does the scammer use to gain access?
Typically, a hidden camera, keypad overlay or a skimmer. The skimmer fits over the card reader and can be the same color and texture, making it undetectable for most people.

Recently, you shared information regarding a new ‘deep insert’ card skimmer. What is that?
We always try to stay one step ahead of the scammers, but these guys can be pretty savvy. Today, ATMs have two anti-skimming modules included, and while these have been very effective at preventing skimming, criminals are always on the lookout for the next scam.

In this case, scammers use a deep-insertion skimmer that alters the internal workings of the tamper-resistant card readers. Once the modification is made, scammers have access, and you won’t notice it when using the ATM.

So what do we look for?
When you insert your card, there may be more friction than you are used to. This is because modifications to the card readers allow less room for the card. Also, scammers need access to PINs and might capture those with small cameras attached to the ATMs. Watch for small pin holes near PIN pads or fake panels added to ATMs to hide the camera. The skimmer may be hard to detect, but the camera could be noticeable. We use our cards every week, maybe even daily, making us vulnerable. My advice is to be cautious and pay attention to the details.

What is Solidarity doing to keep scammers away from their members?
Each of our ATMs has anti-skimmer modules that are incredibly sensitive. If it senses that any part of the ATM has been tampered with, we will be notified immediately, and the ATM will go offline and not respond to user input until the tamper alert is cleared. This ensures that none of our members will fall victim to these scams before we can remove the skimming device(s).

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