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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Cloning ATM Cards Hits New Level

Sep 04

Cloning ATM Cards

Would you believe that this is actually possible? While your ATM card is tucked away safely in your wallet, someone in another state could be withdrawing money from your account without you ever knowing it.

In February, ABC News reported that computer hackers stole $9 million by simultaneously hitting 130 ATMs in 49 cities. The thieves committed the crime in half an hour, using counterfeit or cloned cards. The FBI called it the largest, most well coordinated ATM attack it had ever seen, ABC News reported.

In this case, data was reportedly stolen from a debit card company. The thieves could have used cloned cards or simply typed the information into the ATMs to withdraw cash. Believe it or not, I actually found cloning how-to videos available on the Internet as well as cloning machines. And I didn’t have to search long or hard.

You could call this a modern version of “Skimming,” which has been a practiced form of identity theft for years. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, skimming is a growing threat to both credit card and debit card users. The crime occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic strip and keypad information from ATM machines, gas pumps, and retail and restaurant checkout devices. This allows them to duplicate the card and use it just like you do. It could happen at any ATM machine, restaurant, gas station or retail store.

Check out the American Bankers Association’s tips for avoiding debit card fraud. Implementing these tips could go a long way in saving you money. And, as always, it’s a good idea to use credit monitoring to protect yourself from other types of identity theft.

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