Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Credit Card theft is skyrocketing. Could you the next victim?

The art of copying debit card data has grown far beyond the days when a dishonest waiter might have used a pocket-size electronic skimming machine to capture your info.

In May, New York police reported that a fraud ring had stolen half a million dollars from hundreds of bank customers' accounts using sophisticated skimming devices attached to ATMs at Sovereign Bank branches in Staten Island. The skimmers even attached cameras to capture victims' keystrokes when they entered their PINs. This practice is being used all over the country to pick-pocket unsuspecting victims that only realize the violation after the damage has been done.

Protect yourself: Only use ATMs at bank branches, not at convenience stores or delis, since bank security cameras can offer evidence that fraudulent withdrawals with your debit card were not made by you. A recent study at various ATM locations revealed that 85 percent of them lacked visible surveillance cameras and less than 4 percent had mirrors to let customers see someone approaching. Bank ATMs should have both types of security devices. It's in your best interest to be over observant when it comes to dollars and sense.