Tags: ATM | skimming | fraud

ATM Skimming a Growing Fraud Threat

By Bruce Mandelblit   |   Friday, 26 Jun 2009 01:40 PM

These days, it seems that the corrupt minds of unscrupulous criminals continue to work overtime. Here is a fresh swindle that is quickly making its way across America and other countries worldwide.

Your greatest crime risk, until now, when using an ATM machine was to be a victim of an armed robbery or somebody trying to “shoulder surf” your ATM card’s PIN.

But wait!

According to a news release by the Florida Department of Banking and Finance, a sophisticated scam has been reported. It is called ATM skimming.

In this ingenious rip-off, lawbreakers are taking advantage of technology to make counterfeit ATM cards by using a “skimmer.” A skimmer is merely a card swipe device that reads the information on a consumer’s ATM card. The thief also captures the customer’s PIN number with a small camera mounted in the skimmer itself or at another location near the ATM machine.

Quick Security Tip: Since the ATM machine works normally, the victim is unaware that they have just given a criminal the “keys” to their bank account.

According to law enforcement officials, these skimming rings will often send their stolen ATM data to remote locations, including overseas, where factories are ready to manufacture sham debit and credit cards.

According to a recent ATM trade article, the Secret Service estimates the monetary losses due to ATM skimming to be about $350,000 a day in the United States alone. In fact, card skimming is considered to be the No. 1 ATM-related crime.

Skimming has risen substantially, and these high-tech bandits are fast gaining in their technical finesse, including purchasing their own ATM machines to capture your personal banking data.

Here are some tips to help reduce the opportunity that these crooked criminals will skim your ATM card:

  • Be wary of anything about the ATM machine that looks out of the ordinary, such as odd-looking equipment or wire attached to the device.

  • Be wary of a “no tampering” sign. These are often placed by crooks to thwart anyone curious about a new piece of equipment.

  • Be wary of a jammed ATM machine that forces customers to use another ATM that has a skimmer attached.

  • Customers should also check their bank accounts regularly to make sure there are no unusual or unauthorized transactions.

A Quick Security Tip: Federal law limits loss from ATM fraud, and many banks offer additional protection. Consumers should check with their financial institution for details.

  • If you see anything unusual or suspicious around an ATM machine, or if you find unauthorized ATM transactions on your bank account, notify local law enforcement, as well as your financial institution and/or the establishment where the ATM is located.

  • It is also a good idea to always protect your PIN, including not giving the number to anyone and to cover the keypad while you are entering your PIN.

  • If possible, it is usually best to carry out your ATM transactions during the daylight hours as most ATM-related crimes happen after dark.

A Quick Security Tip: To help mitigate ATM skimming, an Electronics Funds Transfer Association Task Force has been established and will seek countermeasures to the rising use of skimming devices to steal money and information from ATM machines. This task force will work closely with law enforcement, including the Secret Service.

For more information on ATM skimming, contact the DBF at www.dbf.state.fl.us.

My Final Thoughts: This is a heads-up for all Americas to this dangerous and fashionable fraud of ATM skimming. It is an ironic twist that for these sophisticated outlaws, stealing your personal bank data is even more valuable than the ATM machine itself filled with stacks and stacks of cash.

So, be alert and smart: If an ATM machine doesn’t look right, just don’t use it.

Bruce (www.Mandelblit.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

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