"Consumers aren't aware of ATM tampering," he says. "ATMs have 40 years of trust."
Skimming isn't new. It's been around for at least 10 years. What has changed is that the "technology of the bad guy is getting better and better every year," says Robert Siciliano, a security expert based in Boston. "It's up to consumers to watch their own backs."
Typically, ATM thieves use two devices to capture your PIN and card data. One device sits near where you swipe your card and reads the magnetic stripe on your card with your account number. Even more confusing, the device mimics the card slot. "The technology has evolved to a point where the molded plastic fits like it belongs there," says Siciliano. Devices are even readily available over the Internet for as little as $300.
A camera, hidden from view, captures the PIN. "You can get the data in real time," says Siciliano. "You can be in your car with a laptop remotely accessing the device."
Thieves then burn the data onto a blank card to access your money.
U.S. Secret Service spokesman Max Milien wants consumers to be warned. "The public is notified after an event," he says. And don't take bank security for granted. Fraud can occur at any bank in any part of the country. Thieves are even sending out false text alerts to get consumer data.
Banks, they say, are slow to adopt anti-skimming measures. When Javelin surveyed 25 banks, four stood out, though, for their anti-theft measures. They are Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo.
Experts add that debit card users are most at risk. Typically, consumers must report fraudulent charges within two days, limiting your liability to $50. If you report ATM skimming fraud within 60 days, you're liable for the first $500 of any transaction. Siciliano adds that thieves carefully orchestrate ATM withdrawals, maxing out cash withdrawals one day and waiting until after midnight for the next stash, which quickly adds up.
Here are four tips to help you protect your account.
1. Cover your password with your hand
Hidden cameras are disguised so they can pick up your password. By protecting it, ATM thieves can't access your account.
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