We first talked about ATM skimmers in 2006. They are back in the news in 2010 as a wave of skimmers are being installed by what the FBI describes as organized crime from Eastern Europe. The latest reports show that these skimmers are taking in about $350,000 per day. And unlike the prior exploits, these criminals often wait weeks or even months before using the stolen information, making it much more difficult to connect the monetary loss to the crime.

A quick refresher: An ATM skimmer is a device glued on the front of an ATM machine or gas station card reader that records the magnetic information off your card as it passes the card through to the real reader. Some of these devices are quite thin and can look just like the original equipment. Many are also rigged with hidden cameras which record your fingers as you key in your PIN. Snopes has a good set of pictures, as does CSOonline.

Look carefully at the machine before swiping your debit card. If you see any signs of tampering, loose components, mismatched colors or anything else that makes you suspicious, go to a different machine.

And as always, leave your debit card at home whenever possible. Credit cards carry better legal protections if/when they get exploited.

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