Save Your Money. Save Your Identity.

This is a personal message from me to you.

There have been reports in recent history of thieves managing to steal your money directly from your savings and checking accounts. And you likely never knew nor saw them do it.

In case you haven’t heard about this scheme, here’s a PDF file that should help you to understand. The crooks actually modify ATMs to capture/record your PIN number AND your bank card data from its magnetic stripe. Illegal in itself, but they are swift in its application and removal to target another ATM location. That PDF file explains how. With pictures, so you can know what to look for.

One additional reason why I bother to post this message isn’t just to pass this along by itself. I went to the trouble of talking with the bank/credit union I do business with and asked them if they monitor for such activities and/or mods to their equipment.

What I learned is that, at least for this chain, they do daily examinations to ensure no tampering has taken place. At all of their branches. Likely, video records all approaches as well.

But what came next was also interesting.

A warning. Not to trust ATMs that are located in highly public places such as malls or anywhere there is a high volume of customer traffic. Be on your guard if you feel you must use one. Cover your hands when entering PIN numbers at the very, very least.

But, not to scare the paranoid, but be aware that in the not too distant past, crooks actually installed an entire, fake, ATM in a mall (somewhere, can’t recall where) and though people were annoyed at not getting cash from it – it was not too much later their bank accounts were accessed and depleted.

Last word. Be on your guard. Be wary. Be careful in public using these machines.

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