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Beware The Hottest Thing in I.D. Theft–ATM Skimming

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Chicago police issued an alert after at least a dozen ATMs were found to have skimming devices attached to them at stores and banks across the city.
The devices, placed over or inside card slots to steal account information from customers, were discovered at 13 separate locations in less than a month, according to police.

First off, for those who haven’t yet heard of ATM skimming, here’s what it is:

From CommBank:

A method used by criminals to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of an ATM card. Devices used are smaller than a deck of cards and are often fastened in close proximity to, or over the top of the ATM’s factory-installed card reader. ATM skimming is a world-wide problem.

A worldwide problem that has found its way to Northern Illinois. In addition to the dozen or more skimming devices found in Chicago, there have been reported instances in Libertyville, Des Plaines, Bartlett, Batavia, Aurora, Wilmette, and Yorkville.

From the Daily Herald:

Here’s how it goes down: Thieves install skimming devices inside an ATM’s card reader that capture data off a debit or credit card. At the same time, they’ll place a small, hidden camera on the ATM — often just above the screen — to record customers typing their PIN number. With the info from the card and a PIN number, thieves now have access to the ATM user’s accounts.

Crews prefer to install the devices at outdoor machines and at times when others aren’t likely to be around. Skimmers typically remain in place for a day or so before the installer returns to collect it. Some send data is wirelessly.

Some tips from law enforcement on how to avoid being taken by an ATM skimmer:

  • Inspect a machine before swiping your credit or debit card
  • The Better Business Bureau recommends twist. Twist it, see if it’s actually an actual machine, the card reader, to see if it falls off or something on top of it
  • Cover your hand when entering your PIN
  • Make sure your card slides in and out of a machine smoothly. Check to be sure the card reader “fits” properly and doesn’t move if tugged
  • Look for a tiny pinhole above the keypad that would indicate a camera

If you’re not someone who uses an ATM very often, and you’re thinking that you have nothing to worry about, the Daily Herald points out that it isn’t just ATMs:

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, skimming at gas pumps is on the rise. And with fuel pumps, thieves have found ways to make skimmers even harder to detect by putting them inside the cabinet. According to the U.S. Secret Service, many fuel cabinets nationwide could be accessed with a universal key.

Another day, another scam.

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