PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) - As consumers continue the shift toward contactless transactions, cardless ATMs are gaining popularity. But as the technology grows, so does the risk of fraud, and it has the potential to be incredibly lucrative for criminals.

With a cardless ATM, you're basically turning your phone into your ATM card so you can get cash without swiping plastic. The technology is similar to Apple Pay or Google Pay (formerly called Google Wallet).

Scammers know that if they can get their hands on your username and password, they also can get their hands on your money. The fraud often begins with a text message asking the user to click on a link and enter personal information. It looks like it's from a bank, but it's not.

Before you know it, the scammers could clean out your account from cardless ATMs, warned Alex Hamerstone, a cybercrime expert and the head of risk management at TrustedSec.

"If they have your account information and you don't have certain other protections on your account, then they're able to set up their phone to mimic your phone and be able to withdraw money or make purchases," Hamerstone told 3 On Your Side.

To protect your financial accounts, consider using multi-factor authentication. This will prevent scammers from accessing accounts with only your username and password. Hamerstone also recommends setting up alerts that will inform you every time your cards are used or money is withdrawn.

"If I'm out at a restaurant and I hand the server my card, they take it back to swipe it. Before they even bring my card back, it's popped up on my phone or watch that there's been a purchase made on my credit card," Hamerstone said. "Really, what that allows you to do is immediately know when there's activity you weren't expecting and contact your bank or credit card company and just shut it down right away."


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