Police Report Jump in ATM Skimming

Published 10:30 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

Use caution when withdrawing from ATMs, especially in convenience stores and gas stations.

 Special to The Leader

You need cash, so you stop at a gas station with an ATM. You head to the back of the shop and insert your card into the machine. You may not notice anything strange, but scammers have attached a skimmer to the card reader. These devices “skim” your card’s information off the magnetic strip.

Many times, scammers may also set up a camera nearby. It’s usually pointed at the ATM in order to capture the user typing their PIN into the machine. With these two pieces of information, scammers can access and withdraw money from your account.

Many police departments are reporting higher than normal cases of ATM skimming. The spike may be tied to banks rolling out new chip cards, which have encryption technology to make them much more difficult to hack. Until this new technology is fully implemented, scammers are taking full advantage of the current situation.

Use ATMs at banks whenever possible. Avoid ATMs in a low traffic or low light areas. It is typically more secure to use ATMs at banks rather than standalone machines.

Protect your PIN. Place your hand or piece of paper over the keypad when entering your number.

Look for signs of skimmers. Tape is often used to attach the skimming devices; if something looks odd, wiggle it to make sure it doesn’t come loose.

Be wary of strange signs. Some con artists attach signs to ATMs providing alternate instructions, such as telling you to swipe your card on separate reader first. If something looks out of place, find a different ATM and report it to the bank or store manager, or to the police.

If someone offers to “help” you use the ATM, immediately decline and leave. If you feel uncomfortable with the individual, go somewhere well lit or lock yourself in your car and call the police.

Be cautious of ATM failures. If the machine doesn’t give you money, or gives you an immediate message that the machine malfunctioned, call the financial institution and let them know.

Report any problems. Only call a number you know is real, such as the one on the back of your card. Don’t call a number posted next to the ATM, as that could be part of the scam. If you aren’t sure, call the police non-emergency number.

For more information visit www.bbb.org. In Southeast Texas, call 409/835-5951 or 855/BBB-SETX.