Feb 8, 2012

One Way Bad Guys Steal Your Credit Cards

My parents and my brother came out to visit me during Christmas last year. I didn't hear about it until January, but apparently during that time my Dad's credit card or bank card number had been stolen. Some fraudulent charges were made, but luckily he watches his accounts regularly and was able to dispute the charges and get the old card cancelled. No real harm was done because he caught it in time, but it certianly was an inconvenience to have to cancel the card, and get it replaced. 

We often hear about credit card data stolen from online merchants. It's actually fairly common. I mean back in January last year, the Internet shoe giant, Zappos was hacked exposing 24 million accounts and credit card numbers. Online hacking is just one way the bad guys get your information. The other place? Right at your neighborhood ATM!

Bad guys are placing devices on ATM machines called Skimmers. According to Wikipedia, an ATM Skimmer is a device that is placed over the card reader on an ATM that:

...reads the magnetic strip as the user unknowingly passes their card through it. These devices are often used in conjunction with a miniature camera (inconspicuously attached to the ATM) to read the user's PIN at the same time. This method is being used very frequently in many parts of the world, including South America, Argentina, and Europe.

Here is an image of one such ATM Skimmer that was found on an ATM in December 2009 in Woodland Hills, CA according to Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity.com:

ATM Skimmer

atm skimmer 2

Could you have spotted it? Looks pretty real doesn't it? Here is a video from NBC 10's Doug Shimell in Philadelphia reporting on ATM Skimming:

Pretty gnarly huh? Are you going to think twice about using an ATM now? Are you going to check to make sure the card reader can't be easily pulled off? I would recommend it. Have you ever seen one? Let me know in the comments!

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