Crooks can buy ATMs on eBay
Beware the stand-alone ATM, which criminals can purchase online and set up in a public spot for stealing people’s account information. Even bank ATMs can be made unsafe.
The more I talk to data-security experts, the less technology I want to use. The latest convenience I’ve given up? Stand-alone ATMs.
If you want to know why, just hop on over to eBay and Craigslist and type in “ATM.” Availability varies, but often you can find machines for sale that cost just a few hundred bucks.
Bad guys can buy these, get a computer programmer to rewrite the code and set them up just about anywhere to collect people’s card information and PINs. Sometimes the machines actually dispense some cash, but often they’re set up just to display an error message — after stealing your data.This has been going on for a while now, but a bad economy seems to mean more ATMs are available as more businesses that own them go belly-up. Hence, more opportunities for crooks.
“It’s easier to get the ATMs . . . and it doesn’t require tremendous programming skills” to set them up, said Avivah Litan, a security expert at consulting firm Gartner Research. “The hardest part is finding the right location.”
They might just park it on a sidewalk. Some bolder thieves have tried placing phony ATMs outside bank branches, but they risk getting caught on the bank’s video surveillance. Often it’s easier to co-opt a store employee or manager.
“At a gas station, for example, the employee or the manager can get a cut for allowing the ATM to be placed there,” Litan said. “Collusion tends to be part of this.”
The ATM doesn’t even need to be real to fool people. When security expert Jim Stickley wanted to test how easy it would be to scam people’s account information a few years ago, he decided used ATMs cost too much.
More dangers of identity theft
“Real machines were really expensive, over $1,000, so I decided to make my own,” said Stickley, the author of “The Truth About Identity Theft” and the chief technology officer of TraceSecurity, a risk management firm. He assembled his machines from 7-foot kiosks he bought used from a college and card readers he bought online for about $20 each.Stickley deposited two of the machines on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas. The machines were used 42 times by 27 people over five hours, according to the “Today” show, which recorded the experiment. People used the machines even though they could have seen on closer inspection that the machines didn’t have a realistic-looking cash dispenser.
“It was basically just a slit,” Stickley said. “It wasn’t anything close to what could dispense money.”
Instead of getting money, people would get an error message. That prompted several people to try repeatedly to get the fake ATMs to spit out cash.
“They would try two or three times . . . so that made sure we had the right code,” Stickley said.
Such tales of fake ATMs have me convinced: There’s too much risk. That’s what Litan decided a while back, too.
“I never use my card anywhere except banks,” Litan said.
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That’s not to say bank ATMs can’t be compromised — far from it. Crooks can put skimmers over the card readers to suck up your data and record your PIN with miniature cameras. Some bad guys don’t bother with the ATMs at all, instead putting the skimmer on the key card lock of the door that leads into an ATM.
But security procedures and video surveillance at banks usually mean these skimmers are detected fairly quickly. Still, you’d be smart to practice good ATM hygiene where you go. That means you should:
Be suspicious of any stand-alone ATM. Yes, there are plenty of legitimate ones, but it can be tough for a layperson to tell which ones feed information to thieves rather than cash to you. You’ll definitely want to avoid any ATM that isn’t bolted to the side of a building or secured inside a facility. Real ATMs are heavy and have money safes, so they’re not going to be easy to move. Also beware of stand-alone ATMs that advertise “no fees,” as Stickley’s did, since legitimate owners of stand-alone ATMs have to charge fees to make money.
Avoid bank ATMs if the access door is broken. If you normally have to use your ATM card to unlock a door to get to the ATM and the lock is broken or the door is propped open, don’t go in. Someone could have forced open the door to install a skimmer.
Beware of “out of service” signs. If there are two ATMs and one has an “out of service” sign, it could be legit — or it could be trying to get you to use the other ATM, which has been compromised.
Give the card slot a good yank. Put your hand on the slot where your card goes in and give it a push. A real one won’t give way, while a skimmer often does. If the card slot looks strange at all, find another ATM.
Report “malfunctions” immediately. If you get an error message instead of money, contact your bank right away. You’re at much greater risk of fraud, Stickley said.
Monitor your transaction activity. It doesn’t matter how busy you are. You can still take a few minutes every week to log on to your accounts and look over your transactions. You’ll want to report bogus transactions right away, since your liability for fraud is waived only if you spot the problems within a couple of months.
Liz Weston is the Web’s most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently “The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy.” Weston’s award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Click here to find Weston’s most recent articles and blog posts.
Funny Forward Archive
Crooks can buy ATMs on eBay
Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica—where do they go?
Wonder no more!!!
It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life.
The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.
If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried.
The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:
“Freeze a jolly good fellow”
“Freeze a jolly good fellow.”
Then they kick him in the ice hole.
You really didn’t believe that I know anything about penguins, did you?
Harriet Tubman was an African-American who overcame slavery to save others from a similar fate. Born in 1822 in Maryland, Tubman was born into slavery and was frequently beaten by her master before escaping in 1849 to Philadelphia. However, she quickly returned to Maryland and other slave states to help others (including her family) escape through the Underground Railroad. Overall, she led 13 missions and rescued 70 slaves. Aside from her escape missions, Harriet also worked as a spy for the Union during the American Civil War.
An oft-overlooked figure, Norman Borlaug was responsible for an agricultural revolution that saved billions of people from starvation. Born in 1914 in Iowa, Borlaug was an agronomist who developed a variety of high-yield, disease-resistant wheat. Throughout the 20th century, Borlaug introduced this method of wheat production to Mexico, Pakistan and India, doubling food production and decreasing the rates of starvation in these countries. This came to be known as the Green Revolution, which Borlaug continued to promote to Asia and Africa later in life.
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was the African-American clergyman and activist who spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement. Like Mandela and Gandhi, King advocated non-violent methods to advance civil rights in the US and around the world. His work focused on abolishing racial segregation in America, and he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and the 1963 March on Washington, which culminated in the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and although he was assassinated in 1968, his legacy of tireless campaigning for human rights lives on to this day.
Born in 1910, Mother Teresa spent 45 years in the service of others. A Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa became involved in humanitarianism after reading stories about missionaries in Bengal. At the age of 18, she left her home to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary.
Mother Teresa’s humanitarian work is extensive and legendary as she founded and worked for the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. Today, the Missionaries of Charity numbers 600, reaches over 133 countries, and cares for refugees, sick and orphaned children, the aged, AIDS victims and the mentally ill, among others.
Incarcerated for 27 years for his efforts to abolish racial segregation in South Africa, Nelson Mandela is widely regarded for his human rights work. Mandela spent the best part of his youth working with the African National Congress, which advocated a non-violent approach to changing the apartheid laws in the country.
However, in 1956, he was charged with treason for his efforts, and after hiding for some time, was put in prison in 1962. Though he was meant to serve a life sentence for an array of unjust charges, Mandela was released in February 1990 and soon became President in 1994. His efforts and incarceration shed light on the racist behavior in South Africa and served as inspiration for human rights advocates across the globe.
Not many would be unfamiliar with the Indian political and ideological leader, Gandhi. Dubbed the “Father of the Nation”, Gandhi was responsible for leading and inspiring India to independence from the British. From 1915 to 1945, he worked tirelessly, advocating for peaceful demonstrations as India strived for independence. His efforts and philosophy influenced civil rights and freedom movements around the world.
Those familiar with Steven Spielberg’s epic Schindler’s List will be familiar with the Oskar Schindler story. Born in 1908, the German industrialist saved over 1000 Jews during the Holocaust. In 1939, Schindler gained ownership over a large factory and it was at this factory that he employed thousands of Jews, thereby saving their lives. Schindler used his power and the factory’s importance to shield his workers from the numerous Gestapo raids and threats of deportation.
Putting In Plants For Dad
The True Origin of the Internet
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com
did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.
And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg.
Indeed, she had been called ‘Amazon Dot Com’
And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “Why dost thou travel far from
town to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?”
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short
of a camel load, but simply said, “How, dear?” And Dot replied, “I will place
drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what
you have for sale and they will reply telling you which hath the best price.
And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”
Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the
drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold
all the goods he had at the top price, without ever moving from his tent.
But this success did arouse envy A man named Maccabia did secrete (look
it up, it means to hide) himself inside Abraham’s drum and was accused of
insider trading. And the young man did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth
the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical
Rich Dominican Siderites, or NERDS for short.
And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the
deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going
to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum
company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work
only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.
And Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by
others.” And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be
known “eBay” he said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.”
And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”
“YAHOO!” said Abraham.
And that is how it all began. It wasn’t Al Gore after all.