News & Information

Foiling the Skimmers

Foiling the Skimmers

Having just returned from a blissful phone-less, wifi-less holiday on a tiny island way out on the Great Barrier Reef, we landed back in the real world with a bump – in more ways than one. Coming into range, we heard the familiar ‘ting… ting’ of a week’s worth of messages. Unfortunately the first few weren’t from friends welcoming us home, they were from our bank, alerting us to unauthorised withdrawals of $1000 each from several locations around Sydney.

While we’d been snorkelling, sunbathing and enjoying some well-earned downtime, one of our business accounts had been skimmed of over $5000.

After a few phone calls to the bank, the fraud squad contacted us. So, now the process has begun and we wait to find out how to retrieve the funds and whether the skimmers will be caught.

Trying to narrow down potential vulnerablilities to fraud is a good opportunity for reflection; was it the cash withdrawal at our local ATM? Was it the Pay Pass coffee at the airport where we didn’t have time to enter a PIN? Was it the cab driver who picked us up from home and while driving to the airport asked us how long we’d be away?Or was it when we’d stuck the wallet in our back pocket for easy access while juggling our luggage?

We may never know… but, to arm ourselves for next time we’ve done some research on the latest skimming techniques and how to avoid them. It’s easy to find out more about the ins-&-outs of skimming by typing in a few keywords.

In the interests of time however, we felt it best to head straight for the Take-Home Message:

You Can Foil the Skimmers

That’s right, you have the technology. Apparently, foil placed between your ATM cards can block skimmers from reading your card details (card number and expiry date) and it’s cheap as chips. All you need is:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Glue


Step 1

Draw an outline of your ATM card onto the cardboard and cut out 2 or 3 pieces to that size.


Step 2

Cut the foil at least twice as long and slightly wider than the cardboard templates.


Step 3

Glue the cardboard template face down onto the foil and glue the side facing up. Then fold a small edge over and flip the template onto the foil  so the cardboard is tightly wrapped.



Step 4

Trim or fold the edges and smooth out any bumps. Now you have foil inserts to place between your credit cards.



At the risk of sounding completely paranoid – this is NOT a foolproof method. Those nasty little fraudsters are always devising new and sneakier methods to get hold of your card details and rip you off.

And remember, make sure you check your bank statements regularly, look out for any discrepancies even if they are transactions of $1 or $2, avoid using PayPass if you can –  use your PIN instead, avoid carrying your wallet in your back pocket, and always, ALWAYS cover your hand when you enter your PIN at an ATM.

Oh, and for any of you out there who thought you might be able to read my name and card number backwards…. this one’s for you!



Comments (156)

  1. Another very easy method is to stack your cards. It works on a similar principle as the foil method described above. If you’ve ever tried to swipe two cards (paypass enabled) on a card reader, you would likely get a card error message. This method is based purely on my experience with not being able to scan my Opal card by waving my wallet in front of the reader, when a paypass enabled card was next to it.

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