Skimming: All the Places You are At Risk

You know about skimming... when crooks plant usually pretty undetectable reading devices on ATM machines. Then when you insert or swipe your card, the cons swipe your account info by attaching a small laptop to the device that records your data or sends it wirelessly to criminals waiting nearby.  The FBI found even more elaborate cases where the bad guys use hidden cameras placed near the card reader, which record your PIN when you enter it into the keypad. Sometimes even the keypads are fake and you’re typing your secret code into a phony one which records your every keystroke!

Here's the thing. According to the FBI and new national reports, while investigators found the most skimming devices at ATM machines, that's not the only place you are at risk. The high tech rip off tools have also turned up on gas station pumps and even in stores where you swipe your own card when you pay with plastic. 

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"Convenience has its risks: Point-of-sale purchases, as well as ATM transactions, put shoppers and their financial accounts at risk for skimming—a pervasive form of identity theft that costs U.S. banks nearly $1 billion annually,” warns Adam Levin, Chairman of IDentity Theft 911

Identity Theft 911 just released a risk list of places skimming schemers are most likely to strike. Levin crunched the data and says it’s when you: 

  1. Get cash
  2. Pay at the gas pump
  3. Rent movies at a kiosk, like Redbox
  4. Buy train tickets
  5. Check in for a flight
  6. Pay a taxi fare
  7. Pay at a parking meter
  8. Rent a public locker
  9. Swipe your card through a wireless, handheld POS device—often used in restaurants for tableside payment or in crowded computer stores
  10. Use ATMs or other machines that are outside a bank or business, or far from watchful eyes

RELATED Become Your Own P.I.

How can you protect yourself? 

Check out any machine at which you are swiping your card closely before you use it to see if it appears to have been tampered with. Levin suggests you look for, “Loose, damaged or odd-looking parts such as the card slot or the keypad may indicate the ATM has been tampered with. As in all things, let common sense—and your gut—prevail. If you see any adhesive residue on a machine, or if any part of it looks crooked, loose, scratched, cracked or otherwise tampered with, use a different machine.”

Photo Credit: Identity Theft 911

The FBI warns you may want to avoid using  machines that are outside, or in touristy areas. For more tips on how to protect yourself click here.

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