Robert Siciliano is a NextAdvisor.com Expert Guest Blogger

Skimming data off of debit and credit cards has been happening at ATMs, gas pumps and electronic funds transfer point of sale terminals for quite some time.

When criminals plant skimming devices, they have to physically attach a skimming device that fits over the face of the ATM’s card slot. Then they install a small camera that shoots video of the pinpad which allows them to extract user PIN codes. The camera is often housed inside of a brochure holder or little box that may have a mirror glued to its face. The mirror is made to loom like a security feature preventing shoulder surfing.

Once the criminals attach the devices, they have to wait it out for someone to then use the ATM or gas pump before they can remove the device and download the data. It is in the best interest of the criminal to leave the skimmer on the machine for as long as possible to skim as many cards as possible. Because every time the skimmer is removed and replaced it becomes another opportunity for the thief to get caught or for something to go wrong.

In Utah, a group of criminals one-upped other ATM scammers by installing Bluetooth enabled skimming devices that broadcast the skimmed data to a nearby storage devise, probably a laptop. Bluetooth’s range can be just a few feet to as much as a city block. So the criminals had to be in a car nearby.

What makes these devices even more sophisticated is that they skim the card data and grab the PIN code via the all-in-one combo skimmer and PIN pad device affixed to the face of the pump.

This entire process allows the criminal to steal data on demand and immediately turn it into cash. Further, it provides the criminal with the freedom to decide whether or not they want to retrieve the skimming device, thereby lessening their chances of being caught.

You can’t protect yourself from this kind of skimmer by covering your PIN entry due to the fact that the device is the PIN pad. So if you use a device like this you may be screwed. Ultimately, you must pay close attention to your statements. Also, pay close attention to details, and look for anything that seems out of place. Refute unauthorized transactions within 60 days. Check with your bank to determine what their timeframe is to refute unauthorized withdrawals. In some cases it can be as early as a week.

Protect your identity:

  1. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, find out how to get a credit freeze. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.
  2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated.
  3. With your iPhone get my book as an App or go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.
  4. Invest in identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, an identity theft expert, professional speaker, security analyst, published author and television news correspondent. Siciliano works with Fortune 1000 companies and startups as an advisor on product launches, branding, messaging, representation, SEO and media. Siciliano’s thoughts and advice on all these matters appear often in both the televised and print news media including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX, Forbes and USA Today. He has 25 years of security training as a member of the American Society of Industrial Security. He is the author of two books, including The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert; How to take control of your personal security and prevent fraud. He’s also partnered with Intelius to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and to provide tips on how you can protect yourself.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Pay-at-the-Pump skimming on Fox News.