Credit card skimmers are one of the most effective tools modern thieves have for stealing your money. These can be installed on ATMs, POS terminals and anywhere else you swipe your card to grab the information from your card's magnetic strip. A pinhole camera or PIN pad overlay then steals your PIN.
We've told you in the past some ways to spot skimmers, but thieves are continually coming up with newer and sneakier methods, such as this perfect overlay skimmer recently found on a Safeway self-checkout machine. Of course, companies are making it harder to get a skimmer into a machine's magnetic reader, so thieves have come up with another trick.
ATM manufacturer NCR says that thieves are now attaching skimmers to the network and telephone cables that send information from the ATM to bank servers. This lets them snag your information without tampering with the front of the machine.
Of course, the setup still does need a PIN pad overlay or camera to snag your PIN, but those are easier to install than a magnetic stripe reader. So far, thieves have used both, with a PIN pad overlay found on an NCR ATM and a camera found on a Diebold ATM.
If you're going to be using an ATM, and want to avoid this type of skimmer, make sure it's one that's set into a wall. If you see exposed cables running from the back of the machine, then it's possible for thieves to use this technique.
Of course, as ATMs get upgraded to only handle cards with EMV chips, this danger should fade. However, we aren't quite there yet, so be careful.