Prevent Identity Theft - 3 Tips to Spotting Card Readers

Understanding card readers and how they work

Have you heard that the latest method of identity theft is the use of card readers? Discovery of these devices is occurring in major bank lobbies and other trusted locations. The only way to stay safe is by understanding how card readers work and following these 3 tips to spot them.

Understanding card readers

Identity theft is on the rise and the only way to avoid having your identity stolen is staying on top of the latest identity theft scams. Only by doing so, can you manage to keep your identity safe. The latest scam that has developed is the use of card readers.

What is a card reader?

A card reader is a device that fits over the ATM where you insert your card. It is most often a device that protrudes from the ATM. Identity thieves that are more advanced can make card readers that fit over the entire face plate of the ATM so it looks like a regular ATM.

How do card readers work?

When you use an ATM that has a card reader installed on it, you insert your card, enter your PIN number, get your cash, get your receipt, and get your card back. It appears that nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

What really happened was all of the above but when you entered your card, the card reader "read" your magnetic strip and got all of your information. A mini-camera on the card reader took a picture of you entering your PIN number.

How do thieves use card readers?

The thieves place the card reader on the ATM. They then hang around until several people have used the ATM to get cash. Once the coast is clear again, they remove the card reader and take it with them.

Once in a safe place, they connect the card reader to their computer. Use your information to program another card with a magnetic strip and then go to ATMs and use that card to remove money from your account.

3 Tips to protecting your identity

Tip #1 -- Protect your PIN number

Always, always cover the key pad when you type in your PIN number. You never know when someone is watching you enter that number or where there could be cameras recording your number.

When you use an ATM that has a card reader installed, if the thieves can't see the PIN number you entered, they can't steal any money from you even though they have the other information from your magnetic strip.

Tip #2 -- Know your ATM

One of the safest practices involves using the same ATM to withdraw money. By doing this, you are familiar with what your ATM looks like. If you notice a device protruding from the ATM machine you normally use or if the face plate of it has changed, you need to be suspicious.

Also notice if anything appears "loose" on your ATM. If the area where you insert your card appears loose or rattles, it could be a card reading device that has been attached.

Tip #3 -- Safe ATM procedures

Make sure you take your receipt with you after you get your money and that you session has ended.

Following these 3 tips and understanding what card readers are is your first step to staying safe from this type of identity theft.

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