Jun 24, 2010

Beware of ATM Skimming

By Kevin Secor

ATM Skimming

You have probably heard about phishing, medical identity thefts, and credit card thefts but how many of you have heard about skimming frauds, particularly ATM Skimming? This relatively new term is another innovation by fraudsters to get hold of your very personal information from a source you think is completely secure — your very own ATM machine. Skimming is basically reading the information from the magnetic stripe of a card and using it to create a duplicate card so fraudsters don’t really have to get hold of your card.

How it works

ATM machines with no surveillance are the primary targets. You can hardly suspect that something is wrong with your ATM machine unless you specifically look for evidence.

A small illegal device goes directly over the normal card reading slot of the ATM and can read the magnetic strip at the back of your card. That information is then sent through wireless transmitters to the fraudsters who can be up to 200 meters away (some devices now are able to transmit that data directly to a cell phone by text message). A hidden camera takes the video of what is happening on the screen and what is typed. The hidden cameras are installed directly facing at what you are typing to show the PINs. In some recent cases, a false keypad with a key logging device and a wireless transmitter was placed over the real keypad. These usually work along with skimmer devices. An ATM card can be skimmed and can even be trapped in the machine.

Tips to deal with ATM skimming

– Take a close look at the faceplate and card reader slot on the ATM. Skimming devices are usually protruding out off or a little bigger than usual slots. If you find anything suspicious or if anything about its appearance seems wrong, don’t use that ATM and do inform the concerned authorities.
– Be wary of more than one place to swipe or insert your card. Sometimes skimmers will fabricate and affix additional card readers to the face of the ATM in order to capture your information
– Hide your keypad with your hand, in case there is a hidden camera in the vicinity. The probable places for hidden cameras may be the pamphlet holder right beside your ATM machine.
– Usually ATMs with CCTV cameras and in the bank premises are safe. Try to use them but be attentive at these places, as well.
– Independent ATMs are quite common and make it easy for the fraudsters to steal your money. Introduction of smart cards can be a solution to this problem but be extra vigilant when using these ATM machines.
– If by chance your card gets trapped in the machine, do not enter your pin, just inform the bank immediately.
– Don’t accept help from just anybody at the ATM. If a “helpful” person is more concerned about knowing your PIN rather than assisting you, deny any advances then and there.
–Do not just crumble and throw away your transaction slips. Shred them and then throw them away.
A few precautions and being alert while using an ATM can keep your information safe and guarded. So the next time you visit an ATM, think about ATM skimming and beware so that no fraudster can take advantage of you. Remember, being aware is the ONLY guard against identity thefts.

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