By: Erik Reiber. Identity theft is a growing concern for families and businesses. With the advancement in technology, savvy perpetrators are developing ways to more easily infiltrate your personal information. A new technology has emerged that permits thieves to attach hardware to ATM machines and steal account numbers and PIN numbers during transactions. In ATM skimming cases, your personal information is compromised and criminals are able to access your banking information again and again. Read on to understand more thoroughly a crime that costs Americans $1 billion a year, according to the Secret Service.
How ATM Skimming Works
The dangers in ATM skimming lay mostly in the ease in which criminals can install the device on the cash machines. Within a few moments, the device is attached to the machine and mimics the look of an ATM’s card slot. Once inserted, your card details and PIN number is recorded via hidden camera. The criminals leave the device on the machine for only a few hours in order to better avoid detection.
Identity Protection Services
Even if you take precautions, there are still chances that you could be a victim of identity theft. To avoid losing time and money, you can sign up for a service like Lifelock. These companies offer multiple levels of protection to customers. They monitor your credit report for any possible threats and help stop pre-screened credit card offers. They also monitor your reports for new accounts that are opened in your name and any changes of address.
Alerts of possible identity theft threats are sent to you via email, phone or text message. As an extra service, you’re also sent your credit score each month to stay updated on your credit rating. Take time to compare these companies and see which options work for you. From bank account alerts to identity theft inspections, keeping your livelihood intact is crucial to your identity and credit.
Be on the Lookout
Ideally, you don’t want to go through the hassle of having to prove that you’re a victim of identity theft and attempt to recover lost money. Daily Finance from AOL offers safety tips to practice at cash machines to prevent your account information from falling into the wrong hands. For instance, use ATM machines in less populated areas since tourist districts are well-known hot spots for skimming cases. ATM machines located inside the actual bank are considered to offer better protection against skimming. When you use any type of credit card reader or ATM machine, carefully look over the hardware of the machine. If you see any loose parts or anything that seems out of place, don’t use it. If you insert your bank card in the machine and it does not return it or the ATM does not seem to function properly, call the owner of the machine. A customer service number will be printed somewhere on the machine.
Keep Your Money Safe
To further protect against identity theft, it is important you remain proactive. It is especially important to check bank activity on a regular basis. This can usually be done online or through a customer service hotline. This is significant because most of the amounts taken from bank accounts are minimal. The reasoning behind this is that individuals may not notice small withdrawals and the perpetrator won’t go over the maximum limit set by the financial institution.
ATM skimming is just another way your personal finances can be compromised. Taking matters into your own hands and being informed on this growing practice is the first step in preventing further damage. Stopping thieves in their tracks will not only help you out, but protect others from being taken advantage of as well.
Erik Reiber studied in Philadelphia and now works at a technology magazine. He enjoys freelance work when his schedule allows for it.