Steering Clear of the Debit Card Hack Job


The thought of hackers stealing money from your bank account can keep you awake at night, and debit cards seem all too susceptible to theft in an age where most consumer payments are made with a card. CNBC’s Becky Quick spoke with Robert Siciliano, CEO of, to get the lowdown on the fight against debit card fraud.

“Hackers have changed their motivation from seeking fame to seeking fortune, and they’re compromising ATM machines, the pin pad at the retailers -- even where you pump your gas,” Siciliano said on “Squawk Box.”

Hackers can access business databases, leading to the illegal download of millions of consumers' debit cards and pin codes. Once the hackers have that information, they create what’s called a "white card," which is a blank ATM card they can use to steal money directly from bank accounts.

Siciliano, an identity theft expert, offers the following advice that can help you avoid becoming a victim:

  • Try to use ATMs you’re familiar with
  • Look for anything that may suggest tampering with the machine, such as loose wires, general shoddiness or an otherwise altered appearance. Pay special attention to the slot that swipes the card.
  • Watch for "skimming devices" that may be placed on the face of the ATM. Such devices are false fronts meant to appear as the normal face of an ATM.

If something just doesn’t look right, walk away.

Getting money back, once it’s been hacked, can be a major inconvenience and may lead to bounced checks. But consumers can rest assured that costs stemming from hacker theft will be covered by banks or retailers, rather than coming out of their own pockets.