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Top Story: New ATM skimmer threat spreading

Top Story: New ATM skimmer threat spreading
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

Taking your money out of the bank shouldn't be scary or dangerous. But a cyber gang has figured out a devious new way to make a simple bank transaction both scary and dangerous.

This goes way beyond the ATM skimming crimes we've told you about. In those crimes, criminals attach a card skimmer to ATMs. (Click here to find out how to spot card skimmers.)

They use the device to read your credentials, including your PIN (personal identification number). They then use those credentials to steal your money.

The thing about those crimes is that criminals have to actively attach a skimmer to your ATM. A newer version of this crime is far more serious because it uses "invisible ATM skimmers."

These aren't devices, but rather a malware called Skimer that infects ATM machines. When you put in your debit card and type in your PIN, your money comes out, and you leave. Safe and sound.

Except, the ATM Infector cyber gang is remotely recording your debit card credentials. Then, they use your stolen debit card number and PIN to steal your money.

With the Skimer malware, they can take control of your ATM's keypad, card reader and cash dispenser. They can infect the bank's computer network or physically attack ATM machines.

Then, they use an ATM card programmed with information on the magnetic strip. It activates Skimer. They can activate 21 different commands, including self dispensing money, skimming the details of your debit card and more.

These guys are smart, though. Instead of getting noticed by law enforcement agencies by stealing huge sums of money from a lot of ATMs, they're quietly infecting a few ATMs at a time with Skimer. Their small crimes over time give them a lot of money. But it also means their crimes go largely unnoticed.

So, how can you protect yourself against this crime? After all, you don't have any control over your bank's Internet security system.

Here's how you can stay safe:

  1. Use ATM machines inside bank branches
  2. Sign up for your bank's alert system, so you know when there's suspicious activity on your card
  3. Immediately call your bank if you notice suspicious activity on your card

Bonus: Be sure to warn your family and friends about this scary crime. We've made it easy to get the word out. Just click on any of the social media buttons below.

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