Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lt. Williams gives a few tips on ATM safety

After last week’s media reports that 123 U.S. Bank customers’ accounts and PIN numbers were read by a “skimmer” thieves placed on an ATM on the bank’s property, we contacted Lt. Tom Williams, Jr. with the NPD for some advice on how we can try to protect ourselves when using ATMs. As it turns out, it’s not so easy because, as he told us, these devices are often difficult to spot. Newer ATMs have flashing lights called LED indicators around the card slots that tell you the card readers are legitimate. If the flashing lights are covered up, don’t use the machine because a skimmer may be installed. Click here for pictures of various devices from an Australian Security firm’s Power Point explainer.

“First and foremost, everyone needs to familiarize themselves with what their ATMs look like normally, so if anything appears different, they shouldn’t use the machine and should report it immediately to the bank, the retailer, and/or the police. The skimmer reads the card numbers as the card slides past the skimmer and into the slot, but one way to protect yourself is to always cover the pad with your hand when entering your PIN number in case a camera has been placed nearby or even someone behind you is observing.”

Lt. Williams says to be especially cautious when using an ATM machine that’s new to you, especially if it’s in a high traffic retail store or mall. It may actually be easier for the thieves to install and retrieve skimmers in high traffic areas.

The U.S. Bank thieves haven’t been caught yet, and police cannot comment on the ongoing investigation.