Scam of the day – March 17, 2015 – ATM skimmer using criminal convicted

Recently, Dinu Horvat was convicted of a host of charges including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in regard to a scheme in which he installed skimmers on ATMs and hidden cameras to observe people using the ATMs as they input their PINs. Skimmers are small devices that can read a credit or debit card and capture the information on the card for the criminal to use.  They may be installed on an ATM or a gas pump or any other device into which you directly swipe your credit card or debit card Horvat installed these devices on ATMs in New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.  Along with his accomplices, twelve of whom have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the scam, he managed to steal more than five million dollars from the accounts of thousands of customers.  Horvat will be sentenced in June and faces a maximum prison sentence of thirty years.

TIPS

So what can you do to protect yourself?  The first line of defense is to always check the particular ATM you are using for evidence of tampering such as loose fitting pieces in the slot where you insert your card.  This could be evidence of the installation of a skimmer.  Also, cover your hand as you input your PIN.  Also, feel around the keypad to make sure that plastic covering has not been placed over the keypad, as this is another way that scammers obtain your PIN.  These plastic covers can have electronic sensors to steal your PIN.  However, the best thing you can do is probably to regularly monitor your account balance online so that if you become a victim of identity theft due to an identity thief getting access to your account through an ATM, you can limit the damage and report it to the bank immediately.  It is not very comforting to know that no matter how careful you are, banks with less than appropriate ATM security put you in jeopardy, but that, unfortunately, is a fact of modern life.

Scam of the day – May 18, 2014 – New ATM threats

As long as there have been banks, there have been bank robbers because, quite simply, as one famous bank robber once said, “because that is where the money is.”  It should therefore come as no surprise that many thieves have focused much of their attention on ATMs where they have physically installed devices called “skimmers” to steal the information contained on the ATM cards when inserted.  Other types of skimmers are often fit over the keypads to steal the PINs.  However, although this manner of theft is still quite effective, the use of higher tech methods for gaining access to ATMs is gaining favor with even more sophisticated thieves who have obtained jobs with companies that do technical support for the ATMs and through this access manage to install malware that will transmit card and PIN data electronically to the thieves.   Other thieves are using standard phishing tactics to trick bank employees into downloading malware on to their computers that in turn provide access to the computer systems that control the ATMs. Recently this has enabled thieves to increase the limit on ATM withdrawals thereby enabling the thieves to get more money from the ATMs.  With many banks still using the flawed Windows XP software this problem will be multiplying.

TIPS

So what can you do to protect yourself?  The first line of defense is to always check the particular ATM you are using for evidence of tampering such as loose fitting pieces in the slot where you insert your card.  This could be evidence of the installation of a skimmer.  However, the best thing you can do is probably to regularly monitor your account balance online so that if you become a victim of identity theft due to an identity thief getting access to your account through an ATM, you can limit the damage and report it to the bank immediately.  It is not very comforting to know that no matter how careful you are, banks with less that appropriate ATM security put you in jeopardy, but that, unfortunately, is a fact of modern life.