Criminals stealing info from ATMs
Using an ATM may carry some unseen risks -- someone may be watching you electronically.
According to the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, a growing number of thieves from Eastern Europe and Asia are stealing Americans' bank account information by "skimming" ATMs.
Here is how it works: Skimmers install surveillance equipment on ATMs -- in the form of hidden cameras and fake keypads and card readers installed over the real devices.
The card reader scans a victim's account information and the camera or fake keypad records their PIN. The thieves then use that information to create their own bank cards to steal from victims' accounts. The devices are hard to detect, look like the real things and are usually in place for only a few hours -- long enough to do damage, however. Investigators say that skimming costs U.S. banks hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Some recent skimming investigations include:
In Miami, four Romanians made and placed skimming devices on ATMs throughout four Florida counties. All four eventually pleaded guilty.
In Atlanta, two Romanians were part of a crew that stole account information from nearly 400 bank customers using skimming equipment they installed on ATMs in the metro area.
In Chicago, a Serbian was arrested -- and eventually pleaded guilty -- for trying to buy an ATM skimming device.
In New York, a Bulgarian was sentenced to 21 months in prison for using skimming devices to steal more than $1.8 million from at least 1,400 accounts at New York City area banks.
•Inspect the ATM, gas pump or credit card reader before using it. Look for anything loose, crooked or damaged. Look for scratches and tape residue.
•Block the keypad with your other hand when entering your PIN.
•If possible, use an indoor ATM. It provides less access for criminals to install skimmers.