ST. LOUIS -- Identity theft is the number one fraud complaint in the country. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the trend has grown by 11 percent in the past year.
With so many of us using our debit or credit cards instead of cash, identity theft can happen to anyone almost anytime you use your card.
According to BankRate.com, the four most risky places to use your debit card are outside ATMs, at the gas pump, on the internet and at bars/restaurants. Those places can out you at risk for skimming. That's when someone swipes your card's number without you knowing. The Secret Service showed me exactly how these skimmers work and the number one way you can guard against them.
Click here to view how the skimmers work.
The Secret Service confiscated a skimmer from an ATM in the Delmar Loop.
"This part goes over the part that you enter your credit card into, and this is the part your receipt comes out of," Doug Roberts, U.S. Secret Service, said. "They look identical to the fronts of ATMs."
It allows the machine to work like normal -- leaving you none the wiser -- while crooks get a copy of your debit card's number.
"This receipt generator is actually a camera that was fit over the receipt that was angled to catch people entering their pin number," Roberts said.
With that kind of information, thieves can quickly break into your bank account.
Skimmers at gas stations can be harder to detect because they're actually inserted into the machine.
"It's just the wave of the future," Roberts said. "It's another way for a bad guy to make money."
In January, St. Peters police took down a massive skimming ring. Four suspects bought $60,000 of high-end merchandise, including Burberry watches, Coach handbags, Apple TVs and Nintendo DS systems. They paid with cloned credit cards.