Think using an ATM is safe? Think again. Thieves are increasingly using high-tech skimmers to steal all the information they need to acess your account straight from the ATM. Victims don't even know they have a problem unless they regularly check their online or paper statements.
reports that cyber security expert Brian Krebs tracks ATM scams on his blog
"If it's done correctly you would not notice that anything looks amiss."
In the early days of skimming scams, thieves placed a card-skimming device into the card insertion slot. The skimmer could then steal account information stored on the magnetic strip on back of the card when it was dipped into the machine.
But now, to get the person's PIN, clear plastic is placed on top of the PIN pad. Some of these newer skimmers can actually text the stolen bank account information and PINs directly to the scammer so the thief never has to return to the scene of the crime. Krebs says
"The beauty of this is the thief can be down the street at a coffee house or he can be halfway around the world. As long as he has a working cell signal, he can get the information sent to him."
The news isn't all negative for consumers -- if a thief steals money from your accounts or makes fraudulent charges, banks are likely to make good on the problem. Wachovia's policy states:
"Customers affected by any type of fraud are fully reimbursed."
Brian Krebs reports on his blog Krebs on Security
that the skimming business is becoming so popular that that not only has the price of buying the equipment gone down, but some set-ups now have a wireless component to allow the thieves to travel abroad, as long as they have a cell phone that works.