New twist in ATM skimmer scams can empty your account

Thieves are using high-tech skimmers to steal account information at automatic teller machines — and victims don't know they have a problem until they see their statements. [via usatoday]

Cyber security expert Brian Krebs tracks ATM scams on his blog and he says new technology is helping scammers steal even more of your information at ATMs.

"If it's done correctly you would not notice that anything looks amiss," Krebs says.

In a traditional skimming scam, thieves place a card-skimming device into the card insertion slot. The skimmer can steal account information stored on the magnetic strip on back of the card when it is dipped into the machine.

The new twist? Clear plastic overlays also are placed on top of the PIN pad to capture personal indentification numbers. Also, some skimmers can text the stolen bank account information and PINs directly to the scammer so that person never has to return to the scene of the crime.

"The beauty of this is the thief can be down the street at a coffee house or he can be halfway around the world," Krebs says. "As long as he has a working cell signal, he can get the information sent to him."

The good news for consumers: If a thief steals money from your accounts or makes fradulent charges, banks likely will make good on the problem.

For example, Wachovia's policy states: "Customers affected by any type of fraud are fully reimbursed."

However, skimmer scams make it even more critical that consumers check bank statements for unusual activity and report it to their bank as quickly as possible.

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