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Best Practices for Preventing “Card Trapping”

by Tony Mercer, Director of Operations

Card trapping is a malicious tactic to steal an ATM user’s card and in the end their money. Generally, this is done by using a device on or inside of a card reader or the ATM’s fascia to block the card from being removed after a transaction.


In addition to illicitly obtaining the customer’s card, attackers take steps to obtain the PIN. This can be done with a pin-hole spy camera near the keypad, a camera placed somewhere around the ATM, which is pointed at the keypad, or by using another “customer” who appears to be waiting in line but will look over the shoulder of the customer during the PIN entry process.

 To protect customers from this type of attack, ATM USA recommends the following:


  • Inspect the ATM daily for small holes, overlays, unusual marks and tampering with the fascia and card reader.

  • Make sure the ATM is located in a well-lit and safe environment.

  • Add ground markings on the floor in front of walk-up ATM indicating the safe distance a person should wait in line to use the ATM.

  • Install a PIN guard to the ATM to ensure customer PINs are safe.

  • Display information via decals, the ATM screen and/or on the receipt to warn users to never disclose their PINs.

  • Explore industry hardware and software technology solutions to prevent card trapping.

  • If a card is trapped in the ATM or you suspect the ATM has been tampered with, contact the ATM USA Technical Support Team and local law enforcement.

  • After a card trapping incident, only put the ATM back in service when it has been ascertained there are no further card trapping devices attached to the machine.

Click here to read more ATM Security Best Practices or contact our service team with any questions.


ATM USA Technical Support



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