I recently posted on this blog about how identity thieves had made some attempts at stealing people's credit card information and identities by putting “credit card skimmers” on the Redbox movie rental machines at local Mcdonalds, and grocery stores. After reading an article at MSN Money today, it sounds like this type of crime is expanding to just about anywhere you can find a credit card scanner. Especially hard hit have been ATM machines and gas pumps. From MSN:
Fraudsters have returned to ATMs in force as a favorite fishing hole for that prize catch: your debit card.
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With a little light mechanical tampering, thieves can “harvest” your account details and PIN number in seconds, then use them to either produce a “clone” card or to simply shop online until your account runs dry.
“The number of victims we get from debit fraud or ATM fraud is growing every year, and it's growing significantly,” Foley says.
They go on to talk about how you have some protection, but not complete protection:
While federal law limits your liability in credit card fraud to $50, that same limit applies only to debit frauds reported within 48 hours. After that, you could be out anywhere from $500 to the entire fraud amount.
Avivah Litan, a vice president at Gartner, says an August 2005 study by her company revealed $2.75 billion in ATM/debit card fraud losses over 12 months.
What are some things you can do to protect yourself so your information isn't stolen?
Always safeguard your information by following these steps when using an ATM:
- Maintain a safe distance from others in line. Do not allow anyone to distract you or offer assistance.
- Have your card out of your purse or wallet and ready for use.
- Stand close to the screen and shield your keystrokes from cameras and others waiting in line by using the knuckle of your middle finger to key in your PIN.
- If you think the ATM is not working properly, press cancel, remove your card, and report the machine to your financial institution.
- Secure your cash and card, and make sure the transaction is complete and the screen is clear before leaving the ATM.
- Keep your printed receipt to compare against your bank statement.
Check out our post on identity theft checklist – what to do when your identity is stolen.