Protect Yourself Against Skimmers At ATMs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With one trip to the ATM, you could unknowingly give a thief all they need in order to steal your money.

How the crooks steal your information and get to your accounts has become much more sophisticated over the years. So, it’s important to know what to look for.

The number of ATM skimming cases, as they’re called, has risen by 10 percent in each of the last few years, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

Eric Zahren, Special Agent In Charge, showed KDKA’s David Highfield how thieves place skimmers right on the front of ATMs. You can slide your card right through, into the actual ATM, and never realize you also slid it through a skimmer.

“As it receives your card, it is intercepting the tracked data off the back of the card, the magnetic stripe that runs across any credit or debit card,” said Agent Zahren.

Thieves also install hidden cameras to record you entering your pin number.

“This is actually attached to a plate which would be above the keypad where a consumer would enter the PIN number into the machine. It shoots down,” Agent Zahren said.

He said cameras can also be mounted with double-sided tape or glue to brochure holders.

“There’s also false keypads,” Becky Maier from the Better Business Bureau said.

Overlays can be placed over the keypad on the ATM to record your PIN as you punch it in.

“So if the keypad is moving, if there’s a film over it, and you can take it off. That’s also something to look for,” Maier said.

There have been cases of ATM skimming locally in the past year at ATMs in Fox Chapel, Monroeville, Murrysville and Natrona Heights and there were arrests.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

1. The Wiggle Test: “If something looks amiss on the ATM machine, give it a wiggle,” Maier said.

Agent Zahren said, “Make sure that it is a legitimate piece of the actual ATM.”

2. Cover up the Keypad: When you put your PIN number in, cover up the keypad so no one can see it.

3. Check for Glue: “Any glue or glue residue around the corners,” Agent Zahren said.

4. Be Picky which ATM you use: “We’ve found that ATM machines that aren’t necessarily in well-trafficked areas might be a little more prone to this sort of ATM skimming,” Maier said.

5. Check Your Bank Statement: “Check it everyday. I know it seems a lot to check your bank statement everyday, but the quicker you realize there’s something wrong with your bank account, the easier it is to fix it,” Maier said.

Skimmers can also be attached to retail checkouts and gas pumps. Once thieves get your information, they create cards so they can access your accounts.

Europe and Canada are switching to a type of card that has an embedded microchip.

The chip-and-PIN cards, as they’re called, have reduced fraud dramatically in France. But switching over is expensive, and so far, it’s not happening in the United States.

  • Kathleen Rossso

    i am a victim of this crime. Could you tell me what banks this occurred to in Murrysville ?
    Thank you for your report on this crime.
    People do need to be aware of this. (My case) This is now in the hands of the county police.

  • Daniel

    Happened to us with a Dollar Bank account. Dollar Bank would not give us our money back unless we signed a statement that would release Dollar Bank of all liability. Needless to say we did not, now we are going to sue to get our $900.00 back. The management of Dollar Bank was very rude in the way they handled this.

    • Joseph Puskar

      dollar bank is not a good bank. i switched to pnc cause the guarantee against fraud onnthere cards and stick up for u

  • mark d

    Dollar Bank is just what the name says, Dollar and that is about as much protection and help you get from these arrogant S.O.B. I switched from them quite a while ago and yes they are very rude so F.U. Bank Of America is much better

  • Barb R

    Dollar Bank in Cranberry Twp. passed me counterfeit cash on Saturday 2/5/2011. Of course, I am out the money as well! They were extremely rude to me as well, denied everything and the manager called me the thief and counterfeiter in front of my young son! I closed ALL my accounts. BEWARE of Dollar Bank!

  • FixPGH

    Shouldn’t the banks be examining their equipment daily to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with? Oh wait, that would require going the extra mile for their customers, my bad. I also don’t see how they wouldn’t catch people on camera tampering with their machines? I think Banks SHOULD be held liable for this type of activity because there are ways to prevent on their end!

  • b moore

    Is Marty Griffin bored with life in general? Does he believe everything he hears?

    • FixPGH

      I don’t see anything about a Marty Griffin on here, why does everyone always say “Marty Griffin” and then something negative? Who is he? I never see his name on any article. This is an actual situation that happens and I hope you become a victim since you think this must be some made-up event. If you don’t like the stories KDKA does, go reat WPXI.

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