Hardly a month goes by without the report of a skimming device being found somewhere in the Coastal Bend — usually, on an ATM or gas pump. They are designed to steal your money, and as a recent report by Emily Hamilton of KRIS 6 confirmed, they are becoming more difficult to spot.
Not only are the devices able to scan and store the information on the magnetic strip of each card that is inserted, but hidden cameras are also being used to film the keypad and record each card PIN as it is entered.
According to Kelly Trevino, Regional Director with the Better Business Bureau, there are ways to guard against the work of thieves who are looking to steal your personal information and access your money, including:
Inspect the ATM. Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over standalone ATMs in public places. Look for new or suspiciously placed cameras and unusual signage. Do not hesitate to walk away and use another ATM if something appears out of the ordinary.
Protect your PIN. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your private number from any cameras in the vicinity. False keypads placed over the real keypad are also a way scammers get PIN numbers, so if the keypad looks different, move on.
Be cautious of all card swiping devices. Criminals can also manipulate credit card swipe machines at gas pumps and retailers. The hand-held card swiping devices which are sometimes left unattended at restaurants, events and other public locations can also be tampered with. Take a careful look at any device before swiping your card.
Monitor your statements. Even the most careful person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, so it is important to keep a close eye on your accounts. Look for suspicious charges and particularly pay attention to the itemized breakdown of charges and debits.
Report fraud immediately. Alert your financial institution to any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it. Consumer protections for debit and credit cards vary, but depend largely on when the fraudulent activity is reported.
Got a question for the BBB? Email Regional Director Kelly Trevino at [email protected].
You may also visit the BBB website.