Thieves today are especially skilled at monitoring PIN numbers from a distance. With or without the physical debit card, thieves are able to use ATMs against a victim through a process called “skimming.” Skimming devices may be improvised or they may be elaborate purchased devices that attach to an ATM card reader. These devices allow the thief to collect multiple card numbers. The skimming devices may also perform one of two functions: either disrupt the customer’s ability to use the machine successfully; or quietly collect card information.
Devices that interrupt transactions are typically easier to identify. They are often attachments to the machine that function similarly to how the machine would function regularly but display an error message after all your information has been entered. A more discreet skimmer will simply capture card information and be nearly undetectable. Outside of ATMs, these sorts of skimmers work on any type of card reading device.
Consumers should manually inspect ATMs and card readers on gas pumps for any loose pieces, odd looking attachments, or possible skimming devices.
Thieves will also create counterfeit checks with a victim’s information or may alter checks that belong to you. Additionally, thieves may also open a checking account in a victim’s name and use it to write bad checks and incur debt.