Good old Brian Krebs has the scoop on a new card skimmer found in Europe. How is it different? It literally fits right into the card slot of any ATM, essentially allowing unfettered access to cards as they slide through. Add in a tiny camera and you’ve got a complete card cloning system.
The skimmer is powered by a simple watch battery and uses a very small PCB and magnetic strip reader to store the numbers. Apparently the thieves didn’t remove this unit from the slot in time and it caused a fatal error in the ATM.
Why was this in Europe? Mostly to grab benighted American credit cards. Because most European terminals use the relatively unbeatable chip and PIN system, this skimmer was primarily designed to grab the old (American-style) credit cards. This means devices like these are probably found in tourist-thronged areas like train stations and red light districts rather than bank ATM vestibules.
How can you protect yourself? Protect your PIN code. I used to pull and tug on ATM parts before I used them, assuming that crooks would be attaching pieces of plastic to ATMs. Now, with these new devices, there is no visible trace of any sort of skimmer. The best thing you can do is simply cover your hand when you enter your PIN. It’s that simple – and that important.