Card skimmers have long been the lazy identity thief’s prize cash cow. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the general idea is the same:
A small video camera is fitted inside ATM machines so whenever someone steps up to make a withdrawal, their card number and PIN are recorded. Older models are often gaudy and sometimes brazenly attached directly to the card scanner, but these days skimmers are even more sophisticated, making them all but impossible for the average Joe to detect.
Security pro Brian Krebs came across a new model that’s stumping cops in California’s San Fernando Valley. A simple cell phone battery powers the device from within the machine, pumping footage of transactions to a hidden digital video camera.
Look closely and you can see a teeny, tiny pinhole on the right side of the machine. That’s where the camera peeps card transactions:
There is a way to be sure skimmers can’t record your transaction, Kerbs says: Just cover your card and keypad with your hand.
And on the off-chance you spot a suspicious looking device attached to the machine, “do not attempt to walk away” with the thing, he says.
“For one thing, thieves who place skimmers often lurk nearby to prevent such occurrences. Also, consider how you might explain to a police officer that the device you just removed from the ATM is not yours. If you must leave with evidence, take a picture of the compromised ATM using your mobile phone.”
Or, give up plastic altogether: See how one man moved into the wilderness and quit money for good >