Devices can swipe your card info as you use itWritten by Michael Driehorst | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Be careful when you swipe.
We’re not talking about you stealing — we’re talking about high-tech thieves stealing your debit card information when your card is swiped at an ATM, a gas station pump or possibly other machines.
Nationally and even right here in the Toledo area, high-tech thieves have attached a small device called a skimmer over top of a card reader. As you swipe your card to complete the withdraw, purchase or other transaction, the skimmer records the card’s account information.
The device is later removed by the crooks or, if the crooks are high-tech enough, they are able to wirelessly obtain the data.
Sometimes, a hidden mini- camera is installed at the machine to record you entering your
Often, bank-issued cards can be used as credit or debit cards, but no matter how you use them, those type of cards have your banking account information. That information can be used to get your cash.
About a year ago, Sylvania Township Police found skimmers had been attached to local ATM machines. Fortunately, according to Detective Jim Rettig, groups from Toronto and Detroit working together were caught. The Sylvania Township case was just one of a multistate ring, and those involved faced federal charges.
“Be careful when you put your ATM card in the machine. Look at the machine, if it doesn’t look normal, keep your card and go to another ATM. If the bank branch is open, go in and tell someone or call the bank later if it’s not open,” Rettig said.
Rettig and Better Business Bureau President Dick Eppstein both said they’ve even heard of hand-held skimmers that can be used by store clerks and waiters/waitresses who will scan debit cards as they ring up your purchase.
However, there have been no reported skim scams like this in the Toledo area.
Another ATM-type scam Eppstein said is when thieves will place an “out of order” sign over a bank’s ATM or nighttime deposit box. The sign, he said, will direct consumers to deposit their money in a nearby official-looking bin that is later simply picked up and taken away.
The Better Business Bureau offers several tips when using ATMS:
- Keep your PIN in a safe place. Bank and law enforcement officials will never ask you for your PIN, so do not reveal it to anyone.
- Carefully examine an ATM before you use it, especially if it is a stand-alone or mini ATM. If you detect something suspicious — a discolored card reader or an unresponsive keypad — use another ATM. Also, report your suspicions to the bank or owner listed on the ATM.
- Be wary of nearby strangers or “good Samaritans” who offer to “assist” you if you are having difficulties with a particular ATM. The person could be a participant in the crime.
- If an ATM does not return your card, contact your bank immediately and place a stop on the account. If the fault is a legitimate machine error, your bank will work with the ATM’s owner to retrieve your card or issue you another card with a new account number.
- Check your bank statement regularly — if possible, even daily. The sooner you spot and report suspicious account activity, the better.
“It’s a real serious situation, and consumers need to be observant,” Eppstein said. “Part of the problem is the people are just too trusting.”