Identity Theft

The Craftiest Credit Card Thief Ever?

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Some thieves are major overachievers. Seriously, there has to be an easier way to commit fraud than building a working replica of an ATM in order to steal debit card information.

Who knows if the extra effort was worth it, but fraudsters in Brazil went that route and built an impressive card-skimming facade to go over an ATM in Sao Paolo, as can be seen in the video below that was posted to YouTube this month.

Credit card skimming describes a few methods by which someone steals card information. Sometimes it’s a device installed on a card reader that copies the card; other times it involves someone hacking into a system and installing malware to steal batches of data from multiple card readers at once.

Advances in technology and the prevalence of credit card skimming make it more difficult to avoid, but consumers should always take a good look at an ATM or gas pump card reader to make sure nothing looks as if it has been tampered with. Obviously that wouldn’t do much good when a thief goes as far as building an ATM-sized skimmer, but it’s also smart to limit transactions to ATMs clearly operated by banks, as they tend to have stronger security.

Carefully monitoring your bank accounts is crucial to protecting your identity, as is regularly looking at your credit reports for errors or fraudulent accounts. Routinely checking your credit scores not only helps you spot identity theft, it can also show how your financial behaviors impact your perceived creditworthiness.

You have dozens of credit scores. Many are available for free, like the scores from the Credit Report Card, and periodically looking at one score will allow you to see how your financial activities have helped or hurt your score. If you’re checking your credit score every month and suddenly see it plummet, look into it. Someone may be misusing your personal information.

In the end, identity theft may be difficult to prevent, but it’s easy to keep it from doing serious damage to your credit profile by paying attention to your finances and knowing where to look for suspicious activity.

Image: iStock

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