ID Thieves Use Scanners to 'Skim' Credit Cards

April 22, 2007 — -- Identity thieves have a new tool to steal your credit card information -- pocket-sized scanners that allow anyone handling your card to quickly record the personal information stored on it.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced Friday it has indicted 13 members of an identity theft ring that made more than $3 million worth of illegal purchases.

"They skim your credit card and get all your information," said Jennifer Kushner, spokeswoman for the New York County District Attorney's Office. "Information can be scanned in a matter of seconds."

Prosecutors say wait staff in Asian restaurants in Manhattan and along the East Coast were recruited to work as "restaurant skimmers."

The skimmers allegedly used small hand-held devices to read and record personal information stored on the card's magnetic strip. The stolen information was then used to make fake cards.

There's no way of knowing if a credit card has been skimmed until fraudulent charges are made. According to Kushner, the only sure way to protect yourself is to keep your card in sight at all times.