Credit card skimmers getting more advanced as thieves look to stay ahead of authorities
Posted August 31
Credit card skimmers aren't new, but they are still a big problem at ATMs and gas stations as thieves come up with new, smarter was to use them and steal money from unsuspecting consumers.
Mary Marichak had no idea someone copied crucial financial information from her debit card after she used an ATM. The first sign of trouble came when he card was rejected at a gas pump.
"I ran home to check my account and realized that money was missing from my account," she said. "And then the light bulb went off that something weird had happened."
Skimmers are simple but effective devices. After being installed, a skimmer copies credit card information and a camera attached to it can record consumers typing their personal identification numbers.
"Most commonly, the criminals remove the devices and then use the information to create a duplicate credit card that they can use to drain your account," Consumer Reports' Nikhil Hutheesing said.
One way to stop the problem is to cover the PIN pad as you type.
But newer skimmers get around that problem because it's designed as a fake card reader that fits snugly over the real ones often found in stores. If reads card information and records PINs. Newer skimmers are also harder to track.
"This type of point-of-sale skimmer is usually attached with double-sided tape," Hutheesing said. "So, if you can tug it loose, don't use it. And be sure to report it to store management."
ATMs are also being compromised by devices called deep-insert skimmers.
"The bad guys will insert a skimmer deep into the mouth of the ATM, so as a customer you will never see it," Det. James Lilla said.
Chip cards with improved security features are safer than cards that swipe, but only if just the chip end is inserted into the card reader, an option many stores still do not offer.
Another new type of skimmer is even more high-tech.
Police in Dallas, Texas, found the Bluetooth-enabled devices at four different gas stations.
Investigators say the technology is so advanced that thieves can hack into the computers and steal bank card information from just about anywhere.