Tug on that ATM to check for card skimmers, sheriff says
RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - There’s a new kind of bank robbery happening around the country, including Richland County, and Sheriff Leon Lott says the robbers are carrying out the scheme without getting out of their cars.
Card skimmers are plastic devices that are placed over the card readers of automatic teller machines. When customers insert their cards to use the ATM, the skimmer records information on the card’s magnetic stripe, including the account number and PIN, and stores it. The thief later retrieves the skimmer and can access the card information from whomever used the machine while the device was attached.
“From that, they can make a clone card, which is going to have your information on it, and they go shopping,” Lott said. “You're getting money from the bank and you don't have to use a gun to steal. You don't have to go inside – you come to the ATM.”
The Sheriff’s Department handled 10 such calls just in March.
Last month, FICO reported a 70 percent increase in debit cards compromised at U.S. ATMs and merchants in 2016. A majority of the compromises in 2015 happened at non-bank ATMs, according to FICO, but Lott said skimmers can be found on any ATM.
People usually are not aware their information was compromised until several days later, when they see fraudulent charges in other states on their account, Lott said.
“They’ve left town by then,” he said of the thieves, who usually live in other states. “That’s why it’s so important that if somebody does find one (of the skimmer devices) to let us know, because that means they’re still in town. We can probably catch them.”
If you use an ATM, Lott suggests jiggling the card reader. If nothing comes loose or falls off, the machine is safe to use, he said. If a piece of plastic falls off, Lott says to call 911 and try not to touch the device too much, since investigators may be able to obtain forensic information from it.
Law enforcement agencies are also working with banks to instruct employees on how to spot skimmers.
If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.
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