Saturday, September 5, 2015

Protecting your PIN at ATMs and other card swipers

Criminals are inventing more "skimmers" that they use to steal the data from your debit card when you swipe or insert it at an automated teller machine (ATM) or other card swiping device, like those used at gas station pumps, convenience stores and other kiosks. But the account data that thieves steal is virtually useless if they don't know the card's corresponding personal identification number (PIN).

We all know to look closely at any swiping device and beware of any irregularities before swiping our cards, but today's skimming devices can be wafer-thin and undetectable to the average account holder. If you think it's a silly idea to cloak your fingers as you input your PIN on the touch pad, think again. There are cameras everywhere, some the size of a pinhole.

Security expert Brian Krebs has posted a lot of information about skimmers. See his latest post, More ATM 'Insert Skimmer' Innovations, at

Covering your PIN-typing hand at an ATM or gas pump is a simple method of protecting your PIN credential. This should be habit for you by now. If you haven't made it a habit yet, start today.

To see photos of skimmers and keypad overlays that thieves have put into use, Google this phrase: atm skimmer image. If you come across a skimmer, call the police. This step provides law enforcement an opportunity to open an investigation and conduct surveillance on the equipment.

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