Thieves love the holiday season for countless reasons including:

  1. People rushing around doing holiday shopping;
  2. People using ATM machines even more often; and
  3. Because of #1 and #2 above, thieves depend on people being even busier and forgetting to be as careful to protect their private personal and financial information.

It’s really important to be extra careful during the holiday season when using ATMs.  I previously wrote about thieves using skimmers to grab your financial information from ATMs (see, April 25th blog, “ATM Alert! New Skimmer Being Used By Thieves”).  The holiday season gives thieves another opportunity for stealing financial information so I want to remind everyone to be even more diligent.

And these “skimmer scams” are not isolated to the United States.  Paul Ducklin just wrote about two criminal investigations that have recently occurred abroad (see, November 28th, “UK cybercriminal convicted over 9000 skimmed ATM cards”; nakedsecurity.sophos.com).  The thief who skimmed the over 9000 ATM cards was in Somerset, England.  The other skimmers were found by police in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  The Queensland Police Service posted a very helpful photo of the ATM skimmer they found; Mr. Ducklin has posted it on his blog.

How did the police find out about these skimmers?  They were spotted by members of the public in both places who brought them to the attention of the respective police forces.

It only takes a few moments to stop and check any ATM before using it.  If it doesn’t look right, ask the bank personnel — don’t be embarrassed to do so.  After all, it’s your private information you’re protecting.  Let’s not make the thieves happy this holiday season by making it easier for them to steal private personal and financial information.