ATM Skimming Is On The Rise, Secret Service Says

One Reason To Be Paranoid At The ATM

As if we weren't already wary of getting robbed while withdrawing money from an automated teller machine (ATM), high-tech thieves are now giving us good reason to be nothing short of paranoid.

The Secret Service says that more victims than ever are losing money to ATM skimmers, or small devices used by criminals to steal bank card information, according to CBS Local New York. Thieves also install tiny cameras to record people entering their pin numbers.

Here's how the scam works: When you swipe your bank card at an ATM, skimmers -- which can be as thin as a razor blade and therefore hard to detect -- can steal important data from your card's magnetic strip. Thieves can put your card's information on to another card and use your pin number to steal money from your account.

Police caught two criminals in Washington who allegedly used skimmers to steal about $1 million from ATM users, HeraldNet reported in April. Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney's Office issued a statement about the breakup of a skimming operation that affected more than 40 HSBC ATMs in New York and stole over $1.5 million from bank customers.

“Technology is increasing, and it’s become somewhat easier to steal money electronically versus by a gun,” Scott Sarafian, a Secret Service agent, told CBS.

The New York Times offers some tips on what you can do to reduce your chances of getting skimmed: Make sure to inspect an ATM for anything out of place such as signs of glue before inserting your bank card; hide the dial pad with your other hand while typing your pin number; and look out for inconspicuous cameras around the vicinity of the machine (because bank security devices are usually overt).

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