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NY ATMs Get Whacked: How Secure Are You and That ATM Transaction?

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ATM fraud is more common and likely than a crime committed directly against customers who are in the process of attempting to withdraw cash from the machines, according to NetworkWorld.

When studying "emergency PIN technologies" they state fraud was one of the few concrete conclusions from a report about the use of emergency technology at ATMs issued by the Federal Trade Commission.

Meanwhile reports indicate that thieves used "skimmer" devices to steal $217,000 from Long Island Banks between April and the end of May 2010. Banking information was then re-encoded onto the magnetic strips of blank gift cards. Investigators report that the thefts occurred in Suffolk County, N.Y. They estimate that between 100 and 200 accounts may have been cloned.

The ATM is all about quick easy cash. In the world of technology, when "quick" is paired with "easy" there is a sacrifice made in regards to security. Security is often slow and difficult and most people won't sacrifice convenience for personal security.

Certainly there is a degree of security in ATMs, but to make them fully secure requires the end user to do more, and unfortunately users often don't have the ability to jump through all the hoops security requires.

However by understanding some of the risks and incorporating some security tips you can protect yourself.

Always be vigilant when you are at an ATM. Look around the perimeter of the kiosk and beware of anyone paying unwanted attention. If someone is "lurking" they could be waiting to pounce or are shoulder surfing to get your PIN code.

Choose a PIN that's not easily guessed but can be quickly entered. Consecutive numbers or the same numbers is never a good idea. Often new ATMs won't allow you to choose a "soft" PIN anyway.

Don't ever let anyone help you at an ATM. It's hard to envision what kind of scenario might involve another person intervening at an ATM. But consider this: Your card gets stuck, someone graciously peeks their head over your shoulder to help. They un-stick your card and help you finish the transaction. In the process they got your PIN and swapped your card with another.

In another example two women picked up drunk guys from bars who were waiting for a cab and persuaded them to pull money out of their ATMs while they watched for the PINs. Once they got back to the car one, while making out with him, would pick his pocket and hand off the card to the friend.

Beware of ATM skimming and be able to recognize what an ATM skimmer looks like. Here are some excellent pictures of a well made covert skimming device attached to the face of an ATM. You really need to look for it to recognize it. Not all are as well crafted, but some are very good. ATM skimming of course is when the information on the back of your card is "skimmed" and the criminal then burns the data onto another card and makes withdrawals.

They may have also installed a camera behind a brochure holder, speaker, mirror or in a light bar. If you ever get a vibe that something doesn't feel right, just leave. Always shield the ATM keypad with your second before entering your PIN.

Meanwhile Romanian Police raided 38 locations and arrested five fraudsters allegedly part of a card cloning gang. Those detained face accusations of being members of an organized crime group, unauthorized access to a computer system, possessing card-cloning equipment, access device fraud and distributing fake electronic-payment devices. Based on this video, they didn't get a whole lot of equipment but confiscated some cash.

To help combat this type of crime, ADT unveiled the ADT Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution, which helps prevent skimming attempts and detects skimming devices on all major ATM makes and models.

ADT's anti-skim solution is installed inside an ATM near the card reader, making it invisible from the outside. The solution detects the presence of foreign devices placed over or near an ATM card entry slot, without disrupting the customer transaction or operation of most ATMs. It can trigger a silent alarm for command center response and coordinate video surveillance of all skimming activities. Also, the technology helps prevent card-skimming attempts by interrupting the operation of an illegal card reader.

This technology does not require any software adjustments be made to the ATM itself, and does not connect to or affect the ATM communications network. Prior to its North American introduction, the ADT Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution was successfully field tested on dozens of ATMs of four major U.S. financial institutions in controlled pilot programs. Testing pilots yielded positive results, with no known skimming compromises occurring.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing ATM skimming on Extra TV. Disclosures.