ATM skimming technology is readily available and easy for criminals to use, said Dan DeFilippi, an expert on identity theft.
"If you can plug a camera into a computer and plug a VCR into a TV, you can do ATM skimming. That's as simple as it is. You can buy the hardware--all you have to do is plug it in,” said DeFelippi told the US-based news website 13wham.com.
Thieves attach skimmers to ATM's to get people's credit and bank card information. DeFelippi knows what he's talking about, because he used to run scams like this himself.
After his arrest in 2003, DeFelippi agreed to help the US Secret Service infiltrate internet networks devoted to identity theft.
DeFelippi said people are often distracted at ATM’s and don't look closely at the machine they're using. Thieves exploit this fact. He offered these tips to avoid getting scammed.
1. Look for the flashing LED light where you insert the card. A skimmer sometimes covers that light.
2. Be wary of attached brochure containers which can hide cameras to record your PIN number.
3. Pick an ATM close to home and use it regularly so you become familiar with how it operates and can better note changes.
4. Drive-through ATM’s are good targets for thieves because drivers feel rushed by people behind them and don't always pay attention.
5. The safest ATMs are inside a bank or store where people are around.
6. Be suspicious anytime the ATM takes your card and PIN but then says it is out of order and can't give you money.
Related: Police Arrest 3 Over ATM Crimes