Crime Prevention Corner - Credit card skimmers can lead to big losses

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        In light of recent reports that someone had installed a credit card skimmer on a Toledo ATM machine, leading to the loss of an estimated $13,000 for customers of that bank, Lake Township police are asking citizens to be vigilant in their credit and debit card use.
        There are thieves attaching skimmers to ATMs, gas pumps, and other devices people use to insert their credit and debit cards. The skimmers are used to collect data from the cards, which leads to identity theft and theft of funds from the cardholders’ accounts.
        While many county auditor personnel inspect pumps at gas stations on a regular basis and check for the skimming devices, it can be long lengths of time between these inspections.
        That means it could be several months before the officials may find the skimmers. In the meantime, customers can lose hundreds or thousands of dollars from the thefts that occur.
        Some of the skimming devices are made to “blend in” with the ATMs, gas pumps, and other card devices. This can make them difficult to spot.
        Before you insert your card into any machine, look at it closely to see if there is anything unusual about it. If there is anything that doesn’t seem right, don’t use it. If you are at a gas station, go inside and pay the cashier. If you are at an ATM, go somewhere else to get your cash.
        Because it is more difficult for someone to install a skimming device on an inside ATM, try to use those machines to make withdrawals, deposits, and transact other bank business.
        When using an inside ATM, you should make sure no one is inside the vestibule before entering and watch for others approaching the building while you are inside. Don’t hesitate to cut your transaction short if you see someone walking toward the building.
        Contact your financial institution to ask where they may have inside ATMs. You can also ask what safeguards they have put into place to detect skimming devices on their machines.
        If you think a machine or gas pump has been tampered with, you should immediately contact the bank or business to report it. Also, contact the local law enforcement agency to advise them of your suspicions.
        If you have already inserted a credit or debit card into a machine you suspect may have been tampered with, it is best to immediately contact the bank or business that issued the card.
        They can monitor your account for unusual activity or cancel your card and send you a new one. If the card has already been used for fraudulent activity, they will also be in a position to take those charges off your account.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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