SEATTLE, Wash. (9/14/11)--Crooks' methods of skimming card numbers at ATMs are changing, if the arrests of three men in Seattle, Wash., are any indication. Credit unions will want to alert members and staff about the new tactics. Card skimming is the unauthorized capture of magnetic stripe information by modifying hardware or software of a payment device or by using a separate card reader that sends account information to the scammer, according to the ATM Industry Association (Decatur Tribune
Sept. 13). The Electronic Crimes Task Force of the U.S. Secret Service, which investigated card fraud cases leading to a number of recent arrests, said that most of the suspects used several tactics (American Banker
Sept. 12), including:
* Attaching devices to the door entry card readers on financial institutions' ATM vestibules; * Installing wireless pinhole video cameras to view and record personal identification numbers (PINs); * Attaching "out of service" signs on ATMs so consumers would be forced to use another ATM with the skimming devices; * Keeping lists of ATM locations that were good or not good for skimming; * Spending as long as hour measuring and examining an ATM without conducting a transaction; * Using force to manipulate the face of the machine so it will accept the skimming device; and * Wearing baseball caps pulled down low to obscure their identity.
The Seattle ring was allegedly responsible for nearly $500,000 in losses in at least four states by placing tiny electronic skimming devices--some the size of a postage stamp and capable of holding information from thousands of cards--and pinhole cameras to record customers typing in their PINs (The Seattle Times
Sept. 7 and News Now
Sept. 13). The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Chicago says card skimming is becoming a common problem at ATMs and gas stations. BBB advises consumers to:
* Inspect the machine before swiping a credit or debit card to see if there is any new or suspiciously placed camera or unusual signage; * Cover the keypad when entering the PIN; * Choose a financial institution's ATM over a stand alone ATM in public areas; * Change the PIN frequently; * Monitor account statements for suspicious charges and sign up for alerts to be notified for certain kinds of transactions; * Report fraud immediately; and * Use an RFID sleeve to prevent unauthorized access to RFID chips with personal data on credit/debit cards and driver's licenses.