Thieves are using skimmers on ATMs to obtain information from debit cards which enables them to steal money from bank accounts.
Criminals install skimmers on various automated teller machines and then later use the data recorded to loot accounts, LiftBump reports.
The practice is much more profitable than traditional bank robbery, according to an executive for the American Bankers Association. Criminals can earn roughly 10 times more from skimming than traditional bank robbery.
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Skimmer devices can be difficult to detect, and the criminals who install them aren't easy to arrest. In Wisconsin, for example, these thieves are developing more sophisticated devices, making it hard for law enforcement officials to keep up, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports.
"It's a little bit of an arms race in many ways," Wisconsin Bankers Association COO Mike Semmann said. "It's something that is going to exist perpetually at this point. That's why we're trying to make sure that consumers understand what's going on."
Skimmers can come in a variety of forms. Some are keypad overlays and hidden cameras that record either keystrokes or the personal identification numbers that individuals enter, while others are fitted into the machine’s card reader.
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On Jan. 2, Leslie Hagins posted a photo of an ATM skimmer that she recently found, describing it as “molded to match the credit card scanner and fit right over it, just waiting to steal your [money] and your peace!
“Police advise to PULL or TUG on every bank, gas station, and all atm's you use. If the devise comes off in your hands you'll be glad you tested it!! ... Also, cover your hand while you enter your [PIN] since they also attach small cameras!”
People are also warned to stay away from ATMs that look like they might have been tampered with, or simply look different than other surrounding machines.
This type of theft is especially problematic on weekends, as thieves often install skimmers on Saturdays, when it’s harder to report suspicious activity to closed banks.
In addition, people are advised to periodically check their accounts for any unusual activity.