Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Something else to worry about...

[See previous]

There's a new way for you to lose all of the money in your bank account: ATM card skimmers

As crimes go, this one is pretty sophisticated. To take money out of your account, a criminal needs two things:To get this information, the criminal builds a device that he can attach to the front of the ATM machine. This device can scan your card as you slide it into the machine and record its data. A typical device might look like this:

The criminal also builds a camera that attaches to the ATM, or mounts a video camera nearby, or in extreme cases simply hangs around the ATM machine himself, and watches you type your PIN number.

The criminal uses the data from your magnetic stripe and writes it onto a new, blank card. Then the criminal walks up to any ATM machine in the world and, using your PIN number, takes as much money as possible out of your account. See this article and this one for more details.

The bottom line: you need to look very closely at any ATM machine before you slide your card in. If the front of the card slot looks flimsy or extended or "taped on", try to rip it off. ATM machines are built like battleships, while card skimmers are not.

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