Thieves are getting more sophisticated with the way they're using ATM skimmers to steal your bank account number and password. Now they're using wireless data transmissions and keypad pressure-sensing devices that make it much more difficult for law enforcement to track them down.
Used for years by crooks, skimmers fit so neatly over the card reader of an ATM that they are difficult to notice. When a card is slid into the ATM, the reader records the data. Using a pinhole camera mounted on the ATM, the crooks then also record the personal identification number, or PIN, that is being entered on the keypad.
But now thieves are going even higher tech. The pinhole camera has been replaced with a fake keyboard that overlays the original and records the PIN as it's entered. Wireless technology in the skimmer also allows the thieves to retrieve the account information via a cellphone text message. That way, the thieves don't have to return to the scene of the crime to retrieve the device, making it all the more difficult for law enforcement officials to catch them in the act.
"Recently, we've seen criminals use wireless technology with skimmers to allow the end users to decrease their exposure to law enforcement by limiting their physical contact with the actual device," Malcolm Wiley of the U.S. Secret Service said.
What can you do to keep from being scammed by a skimmer? First, take a good look at the ATM you usually use, so you can spot any differences.
"ATM users should closely examine any ATM prior to use, paying particular attention to the keypad and card slot," says Wiley. "Most skimmers/keypad PIN capture devices are mounted over the existing hardware and allow the legitimate users to conduct their business while unwittingly allowing their card data and PINs to be simultaneously captured. These skimming devices are usually recognizable when closely examined."
Tom Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, recommends you immediately contact your bank if you note a withdrawal or expense that you did not make.
Read more: As fellow WalletPop writer Josh Smith warned recently, your ATM card info could also be at risk when paying at the pump.
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