Are ATMs an Increasing Identity Theft Target?

Identity Theft Trends Prove ATMs Dish Up More Than Just Cash

You go to the ATM for cash, with identity theft probably being the last thing on your mind. Your not alone. There are those who are usually relentless about identity theft prevention, and they don't think twice about using an ATM. That could be a big mistake...

Tools of the Trade

An increasing number of identity theft criminals are now using a tool known as a "skimmer" for their crimes. These little tools attach to ATM machines (and gas pumps too) and steal your information when you swipe your card and enter your pin number.

Each and every time you stick your card into an ATM, you're running a risk of the information being stolen. Once your information is recorded by a skimmer, the thief using the tool can create a clone of your cash card or can simply shop online, draining your account before you know it.

Is it Common?

Unfortunately, this form of identity theft is becoming increasingly common. The Executive Director of the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego won't even use an ATM without wiggling his finger in the slot to make sure a skimmer wasn't attached. If you don't want your information stolen (and your bank account drained) you should probably consider doing the same thing.

How to Protect Yourself

So how can you protect yourself from ATM-related identity theft? First and foremost, try to only use ATMs that you know are legitimate. Ones located inside your bank or in a grocery store are usually best.

Even when know the ATM you are using is legit, check for signs of tampering. See if the card slot jiggles at all or if there's any kind of overlay on the keypad. If there is, don't touch the ATM and definitely don't put your card in it. You need to report your suspicions to the institution in charge of the machine.

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