Skimming is a fairly common scam, which involves thieves placing a device over an ATM or other payment terminal that steals debit or credit card information from any cards used at that machine. But criminals are taking this one step further thanks to Russian-speaking Skimer group.
The Kaspersky Lab reports that these Skimer scams began in 2010 but resurfaced as recently as this month, with Backdoor.Win32 Skimer malware infecting ATMs throughout the world, including in the U.S.
What It Does
Instead of installing a skimmer device to an ATM to take card data, the Skimer group turns the entire ATM into a skimmer. This gives the thieves the option to withdraw funds or gather card data any time a card is used at the ATM, including account numbers and PINs.
Once card and account data is collected, the thieves can create counterfeit cards and use them to make ATM cash withdrawals. Often times the copied card is used at a non-infected ATM to help make it more difficult to identify the machine that is infected. The machines often sit with the malware on the system for months before the infection becomes active. To wake it up, the criminals insert a particular card that prompts a menu to activate the malware, which can happen in less than a minute.
You can watch a demo from Kaspersky of the Skimer malware in action below.
Minimizing Your Risks
To reduce your odds of being a victim of a skimming scam, try to use ATMs inside a bank, as these are harder for thieves to install any type of skimmers on because of the higher traffic and monitoring happening inside. But keep in mind, there is no guaranteed solution that can prevent you from being victimized. Because of this, it’s important to monitor your credit card statements and other financial documents for any signs of fraud on your accounts.
And, if you ever have reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment data, monitoring your credit can help you detect other types of fraud. You can view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com and get your free annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for any charges you don’t recall making or any accounts that you didn’t open that are appearing on your report. If you discover any signs of identity theft, it’s important to alert the appropriate authorities, and then you can work to get these problems removed from your report. You can learn more about disputing errors on your credit report here.