How Criminals Are Targeting You At The ATM

Tuesday, April 19th 2016, 11:30 am
By: News 9

Your bank account could be at risk of a fraudulent crime growing in popularity, called ATM skimming.

New data show incidents of the crime have increased by more than 500 percent. Criminals steal debit card numbers by putting an illegal card-reading device on an ATM. Then, hidden cameras record your PIN number when you enter it on the keypad. Your bank card can be duplicated and used, without your knowledge, reports Josh Elliott of CBS News' digital network CBSN.

Matt Bretzius said he swiped his bank card at an ATM inside Harrah's Resort Casino during a night out in Atlantic City. The next morning, just hours later, he found more than a dozen fraudulent charges on his bank account.

"I did research into the transactions on my bank account. I was kind of like, 'maybe I did go to Subway,' until I saw it was in Canada," Bretzius said. "I had a missed call from the fraud department of my bank. They said, 'you know, it looks like your card's been skimmed.' They told me they froze the account."

"Was there a sense of 'I can't believe this happened to me?'" Elliot asked.

ATMs are becoming fatter targets for bad guys

"We made a joke that I went to Atlantic City and the only way I lost money was because it got stolen from me by a criminal," Bretzius said.

Software company FICO -- which audits hundreds of thousands of ATMs nationwide - said instances of skimming rose 546 percent between 2014 and 2015.

TJ Horan, vice president of fraud solutions at FICO, said 60 percent of skimming incidents were recorded at ATMs that were not affiliated with a specific bank.

"We monitor all of the ATM networks here in the United States," Horan said. "In a convenience store, in a gas station, organized financial crime rings have found out that there is some weakness here."

FICO said your skepticism at the ATM can save you some hassle. Dan Ackerman of CNET explained how you can proceed with caution.

"Whenever you go to an ATM -- whether it's an independent one or bank branch one -- I always take a look at the card slot. Maybe I'll take my hand, you could try wiggling it, you could try seeing if there's any obvious seams here to see if maybe there's something that doesn't fit," Ackerman said.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act means consumers usually are not liable for funds stolen from their account through fraud such as skimming. Bretzius said his bank refunded the money in one business day and told him how the fraud works.

"Basically, he said somebody had gotten my number. They'd printed it and imprinted it into a physical plastic card and then they were just using it as point of sale swipe at all these different places," Bretzius said. "It was almost like I was there in Canada, because they had my card."

Cards with microchips have become the new industry standard because they cannot be duplicated. Some banks have rolled out new card-less ATMs, where consumers use smartphones instead of plastic cards.

Contact your bank if you suspect that your card or PIN may have been compromised, and check your account frequently.