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Gingersnap
10-15-2010, 12:24 PM
Watch Out For ATM Skimming

by Jennifer Waters
Wednesday, October 13, 2010MarketWatch


Skimming devices placed over card-reader slots capture your information. The next time you pull up to an ATM, take a closer look at the machine. Does it look a little clunkier than usual?

Look too at what's around you: Are there mirrors? Is there a brochure holder over your shoulder? Does it look like there might be a false panel or an extra light bar attached to the machine?

If something looks or feels amiss, walk away. You might save yourself from perpetuating a consumer fraud called ATM skimming. That's when thieves attach devices onto the ATM machines that will copy a credit- or debit-card number, the information on the magnetic strip and even your personal identification number.

"Many consumers may not be aware that an ATM has been tampered with because they're not educated about this," said Robert Vamosi, a security, risk and fraud research analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research.

Consider this your lesson.

Sophisticated skimming devices placed right over a card-reader slot allow scammers to capture the information embedded on the magnetic strip of your debit or credit card.

They also might have what's called a pinhole camera mounted over your shoulder -- say, in a plastic holder for brochures or a false panel -- that records your fingers tapping in your PIN. Or there could be an overlay on the keypad that does so.

Within seconds, they have all they need to duplicate your card.

"They're not just stealing your credit-card number and information like the expiration date, but also the information encoded on the back of the magnetic strip," said Brian Krebs, who has written extensively about ATM skimmers on his blog, KrebsOnSecurity.com. "All they need to do is encode the information on another magnetic strip and they've recreated your card. ... It's a wholesale re-creation of your card and you still have it in your wallet."

And it's a lucrative business. Theft from ATM skimming is approaching $1 billion annually, according to Bankrate.com. Javelin estimates that one in five people have been hit by an ATM skimmer.

While a traditional bank heist will net the thief an average of $5,000, ATM pinching yields an average of $50,000, according to Doug Johnson, vice president of risk-management policy for the American Bankers Association.

Stay safe tips at the link.

Yahoo (http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/111006/watch-out-for-atm-skimming?mod=family-kids_parents)