MIAMI (CBS4) – When you put your ATM card into the machine, you may not know it, but you’re giving an identity thief all the information they need for free access to your bank account.
Sophisticated cyber thieves are using devices called ATM skimmers to steal your numbers. The skimmer attaches to the front of an ATM terminal and looks like a normal piece of the terminal. It can be made for just a few dollars using commonly available parts.READ MORE: Attorney: School Gunman Nikolas Cruz To Plead Guilty To Massacre; Parkland Families React
“As it receives your card, it is intercepting the tracked data off the back of the card – the magnetic stripe that runs across any credit or debit card,” said United States Secret Service agent Eric Zahren.
The skimmer will steal your information without you ever knowing it capture the information because it looks like a normal part of the ATM.
“I’m very nervous whenever I go to the ATM,” Miami Garden’s Tiffany Williams said. “I worry about somebody getting all my information.”
The Secret Service in Miami told CBS4 chief consumer investigator Al Sunshine said they are seeing these types of crimes a lot more often and all over the place.
“It’s a pervasive problem and it’s getting worse every year,” said special agent in charge of the Miami field office, Michael Fithen. “There’s no question it’s getting worse and Miami is now one of the top 5 locations in the country for this kind of activity.”
Fithen said South Florida is seeing international cyber crime rings coming here to setup the skimmers and scam local residents.READ MORE: Nikolas Cruz Pleads Guilty In BSO Jail Guard Attack
Once the thieves have your information, they use a digital cloning device to put your account information on their blank ATM cards. They then can use the new card to drain your bank account.
The criminals are also installing hidden cameras to record your PIN as you enter them on the ATM keypad. The cameras can be mounted next to brochures and very well hidden, so you’d never suspect it.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
When you go to the ATM, check it out closely for anything that doesn’t look right or might be loose. Give it “the wiggle” test to see if anything comes off. Make sure to cover the keypad with your other hand when you enter your PIN at the terminal.
Look for any glue or glue residue around the corners of the machine. You should also check your bank account as much as possible to detect any unauthorized activity as soon as possible, and keep a check on it every day.
That way, if there’s something wrong with your bank account; it’ll be easier to fix it before the crooks drain even more money out of your account.
And don’t forget, skimmers can also be attached to retail store checkouts and even gas pumps.MORE NEWS: Parkland Survivor David Hogg On Potential Guilty Plea: 'It's Horrific That Our Community Has To Continue Going Through This'
South Florida cyber crime specialists expect the problem here to get even worse as more and more consumers turn to ATM’s for some quick cash, rather than racking up more debt on their credit cards.