ATM and credit card skimmers are popping up across Georgia. This is what to look out for — and when you should be suspicious.
By Doug Gross (Patch Staff) - Updated July 1, 2017 12:28 pm ET
ATLANTA, GA — Authorities, both nationwide and in Georgia, are warning consumers to beware of credit-card skimmers — a relatively new technique thieves are using to rip off their victims.
Skimmers are devices used to capture data on ATM and credit cards. There have been no shortage of such incidents in Georgia. Last week, authorities in South Carolina said the suspects accused of placing skimmers on a bank ATM in Pawleys Island did the same at banks in Georgia and North Carolina.
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Last month, an East Point man who led police on a high-speed chase on Ga. 400 was found to have a handgun and a card skimmer in his possession. Earlier in May, a Georgia couple was arrested for running a skimming operation in Alabama.
And in March, skimmers were found at multiple south Georgia locations, including Albany. That's around the same time a technician discovered a card skimmer on a gas pump in McDonough.
With all of these incidents popping up, Patch has some tips to help you keep your money safe.
First, the basics. What exactly is a card skimmer?
It's a small device that affixes to a card reader, allowing a thief to illegally collect the credit and debit card information of unsuspecting customers. Most commonly, card skimmers are put on ATMs, gas station pumps or self-checkout machines.
The typical ATM skimmer is smaller than a deck of cardsand fits over an existing card reader, says PC Mag. Not sure what a card-skimming device looks like? This website shows various skimmers on ATMs, so you know what to look for in the future.
You can also look for obvious signs of tampering with an ATM or other card-accepting machine you're about to use.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to consumers, saying that while skimmers aren't new, emerging technology is making them smaller and harder to spot.
How to Protect Your ATM Card
Use secure ATM machines under video surveillance or inside a bank lobby. They’re less likely to be tampered with.
Pay careful attention to what the card reader and keypad normally look like on the ATMs you use most frequently.
Don’t use an ATM if the card reader appears to be added on, fits poorly or is loose. Some thieves place a fake box over the card slot that reads and records account and PIN numbers.
Inspect the machine for items that were installed over or around the PIN pad of the ATM. Look for an attachment on the ATM that contains a small hole that is pointed in the direction of the PIN pad.
Lightly tug the area of the card slot. Most skimming devices are attached with double-sided tape for quick removal by the crooks.
Cover the keypad with your other hand while typing your PIN. This is the best way to ensure that your PIN number is not recorded.
If the keypad backlight is off, that's another warning sign that a skimming device could be installed, the Mic.com article says.
Also, if the chip reader is deeper than normal, beware.
A rule of thumb (no pun intended): If your card goes so deep into a chip reader that you can't keep a thumb on it, that's a sign there could be a skimmer installed, Mic.com reports.