Friday, January 29, 2010

Identity Thieves Target ATMs

by Aleshia Altizer

From pickpockets hoping to hit pay dirt with a stolen purse to service workers in hotels, hospitals and restaurants selling confidential information, personal data is a hot commodity and under constant threat – The New York Daily News

Identity thieves will go to any lengths to get their hands on your personal information. Now they are installing small machines known as skimmers on ATMs, and according to a story from the New York Daily News, one crew of identity thieves managed to steal over $500,000 from more than 250 victims using this method.

Here’s what they did: They placed skimmers over the card slots on ATM machines, and when a customer inserted their card, the skimmer read and stored the card information. In addition, they installed a tiny pinhole camera on the ATM and recorded each customer’s PIN when they typed it in. Thieves used the stolen information to create and use phony ATM cards. The article also cites a warning from police that these skimmers have also turned up on gas pumps, and with crooked waiters at high-end restaurants.

Consumerist.com has pictures of an ATM skimmer, so you can learn how to spot one. At times like these it's so important to closely monitor bank statements, credit reports and credit card statements and report any fradulent activity immediately.

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Aleshia Altizer is a Corporate Writer at Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. Pre-Paid Legal's signature products, including the Life Events Legal Plan and Identity Theft Shield, serve more than 1.5 million families in North America.

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