Unfortunately, we live in a world where physical robbery isn’t the only threat to our savings. Online fraud and hacking has become rampant in the past few decades, leaving most of us vulnerable to the “bad guys” whenever they figure out how to hack our bank accounts. We don’t have to tell you this; you hear so many cases of identity theft that we’re all well-accustomed to this cyber threat.
Getting your identity stolen is stressful and scary enough, but did you know that there is now a way for would-be thieves to steal your ATM information without even laying hands on your card? No, this has nothing to do with your typical online scammers.
This threat is present in any grocery store, pharmacy, or anywhere with a keypad for debit card PINs. Jet propulsion laboratory engineer Mark Rober explains this new threat, and most importantly, the simple way to keep yourself and your bank account protected in the video below.
The newest scam comes in the form of an infrared camera, which if you don’t know, is a device that allows you to see the heat signature of objects through the lens. This isn’t a new piece of technology by any means, so its been slowly perfected and shrunken down for many years. And now this camera has a new and nefarious purpose.
How does this play into your PIN getting stolen at the store? Well, consider this. When your fingers hit the buttons on a keypad, they leave behind a thermal signature (the heat of your skin on the cold plastic.) You wouldn’t be able to see that with your naked eye, but if a thief has an infrared camera, they could take a picture of the key pad and see which buttons you pressed.
Even worse, they can even tell the order in which you pressed them; the “warmest” or darkest key in the picture is the button you pressed last, and the “coolest” or lightest key in the picture is the button you pressed first.
With this knowledge, it’s all but too easy to figure out your code and steal directly from your account.
But how can thieves get these cameras into stores without personnel knowing? Scarily enough, these infrared cameras now come in a small compact form so that they fit right over your iPhone like a phone case. They only cost a couple hundred dollars and are sold at most Apple stores.
Don’t worry, there is a way to prevent this from happening to you!
The trick is simple: when you’re punching in your PIN on the key pad, rest some of your other fingers across the other keys. This way, you’ll throw off the infrared image and a thief won’t be able to distinguish which numbers you pressed.
What do you think of this safety trick? Do you have another means of protecting your PIN in grocery stores? Share your thoughts and any safety techniques you use in the comments section below.
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