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Have you heard about an app that can pick up your ATM pin code?

This is a new one to me, but today on Skype a close French friend, who doesn't live in a touristic area, told me she withdrew her money, put her card in a deep pocket in a pair of thin, summer pants, was walking back to her car when asked a driving direction question by someone who had an accent she couldn't pinpoint. That afternoon at home she was looking for her card, thinking she'd misplaced it, but by the next day there were new charges on it, so she knew the person asking questions had picked it. Normally the card's no good without the code, but the police told her there's an illegal app that can capture pin codes. Yikes.

Posted by
2047 posts

Google search "App capture ATM PIN codes". There are thermal devices that can pick the sequences off the keyboard.
Yikes, indeed!

Posted by
4654 posts

Or the less high-tech tradition of attaching a miniature camera to the ATM has probably been updated to allow use of a smartphone to receive the pictures.

Posted by
17 posts

Hide your hand with the other hand as you key in your pin. Prevent the capture of your pin by thermal scan by randomly pressing some of the keyboard keys when you have finished your transaction.

Posted by
4500 posts

PINs are not failsafe. People can watch you enter your PIN, they can mount a camera to record it or they can attach a skimmer to record it. Then all they need to do is steal your card.

It's rare, but it happens.

Posted by
30973 posts

Bets,

Based on the description your friend provided, it sounds like she'll need a deeper pocket. The PIN may have been captured by a small camera mounted above the keypad on the ATM. Most of the ATM keypads I've seen have used the larger stainless steel keys, so using an infrared camera on those wouldn't be as effective.

Posted by
7693 posts

Ken, why is that? Because they are metal and don't retain the heat from your fingers as well?

I would make a lousy crook. I can't even imagine coming up with these things.

Posted by
30973 posts

Pam,

Yes, that's correct. Have a look at this video.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vc-69M-UWk

The point that stands out from this scenario is that while a thief might be able to obtain the PIN code from the thermal signature, how is the credit / debit card number obtained. The PIN is useless without that so a skimmer would have to be installed on the POS terminal as well. I'm not sure this would work with a Chip & PIN card, as each transaction is "tokenized" with a unique code.

I don't know how common this problem is, but something else to be aware of.

Posted by
4500 posts

^^ The chip in a credit or debit card makes reproducing it nearly impossible - because of the micro-processing chip needed and the unique transaction code that is made for each purchase/transaction. For that reason, I would think ATM skimmers will become a thing of the past once the US transitions to EMV debit/ATM cards after October 2016. One could still use a skimmer and then steal the card, but more likely those wanting to do that will just use surveillance techniques to get the PIN (stand behind them to watch their PIN, then pick their pocket to steal their card).

Posted by
7693 posts

Thanks Ken for the video link. Very interesting. I will have to work on holding my hand as he suggests.

Posted by
30973 posts

Pam,

I really don't think the infrared key reader will be much of a problem, as the thieves will either have to get the card or skim the card number. That's the only way they'll be able to steal from a Chip & PIN card. The PIN by itself is of little use.

Posted by
7649 posts

This is why I always use an ATM that is inside the bank, not the ones on the street.