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Robert Siciliano

Identity Theft Expert

Robert Siciliano - IDTheftSecurity.com

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ATM Skimming rising, again

08 July 2015  |  3105 views  |  3

Do you know what ATM stands for? For crooks, it stands for A Thief’s Moneymaker.

A new report from FICO says that “skimming” crimes have made their biggest spike in the past 20 years. This includes ATMs on bank premises, but of course, public ATM kiosks have seen the biggest spike.

The thief tampers with the ATM’s card receiver; the installed gadget collects card data which the thief retrieves later. “Skimming,” as this is called, also refers to capturing the PIN via a hidden camera.

With the stolen data, thieves craft phony debit cards, which they then use at ATMs or for purchases. In seconds, your bank account could be sucked dry—poof!

ATM users normally do not know that a skimming device is in place; they just swipe their card. The thief will come back to collect the skimmed data (likely in the middle of the night).

  • He downloads your data.
  • He burns it to a blank ATM card.
  • He drains your bank account first chance he gets or goes on a wild shopping spree.
  • All of this can happen within minutes to hours.
  • The hidden camera may be concealed by a brochure slot near the machine—placed there by the crook himself—with bank brochures he got from inside the bank.
  • The camera may be hidden in a nearby lighting fixture or even attached somewhere on the ATM.

Prevent Getting Skimmed

  • Use only ATMs inside banks if possible. The riskiest locations are restaurants, bars, nightclubs and public kiosks.
  • Regardless of ATM location, inspect the machine. A red flag is if the scanner’s colors don’t jibe with the rest of the machine.
  • Jiggle the card slot to see if it feels like something’s attached to it.
  • Inspect card slots at gas stations and other non-ATM devices that scan your debit card.
  • Look around for areas a camera might be hidden. Even if all seems clear, cover your hand when you enter the PIN.
  • Try to get away from using a debit card at all. At least with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges before you lose any money (up to 60 days), but with a credit card, you have only a few days to do this.
  • Frequently check your bank and credit card statements.

 

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Comments: (5)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 09 July, 2015, 17:50 A tad scaremongering? Advising customers to use Credit Cards for Cash Advances - which often attract a fee and a higher interest rate if the balance revolves isn't such a smart move. Customers can (and do) dispute Debit ATM transactions - where they are on a sticky wicket is Prepaid Card usage. The application of common sense is probably the best advice - look for obviously suspicious items in or around the card reader (unfortunately one German ATM manufacturers anti-skimming device actually looks like a skinning device). Always covering your PIN is golden. Give the pin pad a bit of a rock to see if it is genuinely the EPP or a false front.
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Robert Siciliano
Robert Siciliano - IDTheftSecurity.com - Boston | 09 July, 2015, 21:50

"Advising customers to use Credit Cards for Cash Advances - which often attract a fee and a higher interest rate if the balance revolves isn't such a smart move" 

No. 

You must have read a different article. Nothing in this article says anything in regards to your statement. 

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 09 July, 2015, 21:55 "Try to get away from using a debit card at all. At least with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges before you lose any money (up to 60 days), but with a credit card, you have only a few days to do this." Are you advising people not to use ATM's at all?
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Robert Siciliano
Robert Siciliano - IDTheftSecurity.com - Boston | 09 July, 2015, 22:00

I don't use a debit card at all. It's a personal choice. An ATM card can't be used for anything but an ATM transaction or to identify the customer at the teller window. A debit card is one more variable to be concerned about. 

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 21 July, 2015, 15:51

I too strictly follow the advice of never using Debit Cards online or offline, except for making ATM cash withdrawals. In my experience in Germany, UK and India, banks issue a single card that doubles up as ATM-cum-Debit card, so I can't totally avoid debit cards! Apart from better fraud protection, credit cards also provide rewards and deferred payments, so I try and use credit cards as far as possible at POS (but never for cash withdrawal at ATM on account of the hefty charges).

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job title Security Analyst
location Boston
member since 2010
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Security analyst, published author, television news correspondent. Deliver presentations throughout the United States, Canada and internationally on identity theft protection and personal security....

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