Desert Schools Spotlights Skimming

by DS Bug on February 14, 2011


A form of identity theft called Skimming is on the rise and it is important to always be aware of where you insert your debit cards. Desert Schools Federal Credit Union wants their customers to be aware of Skimming and what you can do to protect yourself against skimmers. The article below has a lot of good infomation to help keep your identity safe.

More on Spotting ATM Skimmers

by Jennifer Saranow Schultz

To help readers better protect themselves from thieves who want to swipe their sensitive debit card information, we’ve shared pictures in the past of how to spot skimming devices on ATMs.

Skimmers applied to card readers (think fake card readers on top of the real ones) are designed to capture debit card magnetic stripe data, while tiny wireless cameras or overlays to existing personal identification number pads are designed to capture PIN information. Once thieves capture such data, they can use it to make fake cards or sell the information on the Internet to others.

Besides learning what skimming devices look like, consumers can also employ other strategies to spot the devices, according to John Pearce, director of commercial marketing for banking-financial and government systems at the security company ADT, which sells anti-skimming technology. He recently shared the following strategies with us.

Perform an ATM Inspection

Before swiping your card, Mr. Pearce recommended that consumers examine ATMs for tell-tale signs of skimmers like visible glue marks or residue around the reader or PIN pad. Also, look for loose parts (tug on the card reader, say, to see if it comes off or if there is a loose appendage recently added to the machine). “You want to inspect the card reader slots first and foremost,” Mr. Pearce said. “If there’s any residual of glue around the PIN pad area or around the card slot, there’s a pretty good chance there was skimming activity in the recent past.”

Perform an ATM Area Inspection

Mr. Pearce also recommended that consumers look around the ATM area to see if anything looks out of the ordinary. For instance, is there a cola can or pack of cigarettes on the top of the ATM or promotional literature nearby? If so, look closely to make sure there’s no miniature camera hidden in such spots. Check the ceiling above the ATM for such cameras as well. While legitimate security cameras for the banks will be clearly overt and visible, these cameras will be hidden and about three-fourths of an inch square in size, Mr. Pearce said.

Cover Your PIN

When you type in your PIN, Mr. Pearce recommended using your other hand to shield the keypad to block it from video cameras hidden in the light above the keypad or elsewhere. This can also help protect your information from “shoulder surfers,” people who Mr. Pearce said stand off to the side to try to record your PIN.

Know Which ATMs to Pay Special Attention To 

Mr. Pearce recommended being extra vigilant and cautious when using ATMs at heavily trafficked areas like at malls, airports and gas stations. In many cases, he said, skimming can go unnoticed in such locations because there aren’t any personnel monitoring the machines. In addition, if you’re having problems using a machine, avoid any offers from help from strangers. “They know you are having a problem because they caused the problem to take place in the first place,” Mr. Pearce said, noting that they would ask for your personal identification number as they try to enter your card.

Know When to Use Your Credit Card

In situations where your card goes out of your line of sight (like at a restaurant or hotel), Mr. Pearce recommended using a credit card rather than a debit card.

Article featured in The New York Times

 

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