10 Identity Theft Prevention Tips All Taxpayers Should Know
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Video Shows How Thieves Install And Use an ATM Skimming Device

This blog has discussed how to recognize skimming devices attached to ATM machines. According to Wired magazine, law enforcement authorities in Europe seized the video below from an identity thief's actual surveillance camera. The video shows:

  • The thief attaching a tiny surveillance camera to the ATM machine
  • The thief attaching the skimming device to the card slot
  • Bank customers entering their debit cards and PIN numbers

Thieves use the tiny surveillance camera to record bank customers' PIN numbers as they entered them. Thieves use the skimming device on the card slot to copy all of the data stored on the magnetic strip of bank customers' debit cards. Both devices transmit their contents via a wireless connection to the thief's laptop computer somewhere nearby.

With these pieces of bank account information, thieves then create duplicate debit cards and return to one of your bank's ATM machines to drain all of the money from your checking (and savings) account. And, you'll never know it until a check bounces, you try to withdraw cash, or you check your account balance.

The video shows some bank customers safely covering their hands when entering their PIN numbers. To protect your PIN number and bank account, you should cover the hand you use to enter your PIN number. Watch all of this video:

Alert users will notice that this ATM machine is accessible via a public sidewalk. I do not use these ATM machines. I use only the ATM machines behind a locked door at my bank's ATM booths.

Theft by ATM skimming devices is a nationwide problem. Experts say that every year ATM machines dispense about $1 trillion dollars (that is $1,000,000,000,000), and theft by ATM skimming devices is less than one-half of one percent of that total -- still a huge amount of money. So, the problem is not going away anytime soon. Plus, the ATM skimming devices are getting smaller and more sophisticated.

As good as the above video is as a training tool, it won't help you at gas stations because thieves often insert skimming devices inside unattended gas station pumps. To learn about how to protect yourself at gas stations, read this blog post.


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Charles Jeter

George, it's even grimmer than you may think. The most typical type of skimmer we (and that includes certain law enforcement organizations) have seen here in San Diego are sophisticated and built to operate on the inside of the box, completely transparent.

These skimmers often are installed inside gas pumps. Why? Just the sheer volume of daily transactions means that the thief gets more than any other venue: we all have to buy gas.

The tips offered to me by the CATCH Team, Secret Service and San Diego Police Department to minimize your risk are:
1) Don't use a pump outside the view of the attendant.
2) Don't use a debit card. Ever.
3) Don't use the pumps closes to the road.
4) Consider going inside to pay with your card.

Here's a list of tips I published back in June:

The pumps closest to the road are because the thieves now just drive by and download by Bluetooth wireless data. They don't have to expose themselves to capture.

Also - read your article which preceded mine by months! As always, you're on top of it!!!



As always, it is great to hear from you. Readers may not know, but Charles writes a great blog that is worth a read:


Have a good day!



great lens and tips about Video How toUse an ATM Skimming Device, and the Video Shows How Thieves Install and made his worst...will credit this.

Security Tape

Thanks so much, this kind of information is so useful for us members of the public who know there are issues surrounding this but don't know how to best protect ourselves. When advising my daughters to be "careful" I never had anything concrete to say as I was unsure about the actual technique these guys use. So thanks, I now have a useful piece of advice to pass on!

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