Identity theft is not a new issue. To some degree, most of us have been involved in some form of ID theft and it has negatively impacted us, some more than others. Unfortunately, this problem is not going to disappear anytime soon and it is important to be aware of the new advantages that the thieves are gaining.
If you have a debit/credit card with a RFID chip on it then you are one of the 250 million Americans who are at a slightly higher risk of falling victim to identity theft. There are devices that can be purchased online for less than $100 that can steal your card information from just 25 feet away and you’d be none the wiser.
Another popular method involves “Skimmers.” These credit card scanners are placed over the top of ATM machines and are used to steal the information directly off the magnetic strip. The data is stored into a file that the thief returns later to retrieve. The thief can use the stolen information to create cloned cards or access bank accounts and steal money directly. The best way to protect yourself is to be cautious when using the ATM. Pay close attention to the card slot and make sure that nothing looks disproportioned or out of place. If you touch the keypad and it feels slightly thicker than normal, do not use it. Another method is to jiggle the card slightly as you insert it into the machine. The skimmer needs to read the card in one smooth motion in order to steal the data so, giving the card a slight shake may throw the device off.
Be sure to keep your PIN covered completely. When these skimmers are installed, the thief will sometimes install a small pinhole camera within range of the keypad in order to steal their victims’ PIN to make for easier access. Keeping your PIN covered is actually one of the safest ways to keep your accounts safe because, in most cases, even if your information is taken from off of your card, without the PIN the thief has no way of causing any harm.
Protecting your identity has become a 24/7 task and we must make sure to keep our eyes open and to be aware of the methods that are being used to take what is most precious to us.