Remember the threat posed several years ago by skimmers on ATMs? It’s back thanks a criminal ring that’s hit Publix locations throughout Florida.
A skimmer is a small electronic device that can be attached to an ATM where you insert your card. It is used by criminal rings to illegally capture your card information. Often it’s used in conjunction with a surveillance camera that captures you punching in your secret code.
Once the crooks have all your info, within minutes they make a duplicate of your card and start emptying your account all around town and sometimes even overseas.
Skimmer scams were a real problem a few years ago and now they’re back, according to The Sun Sentinel. Publix, the Southeast regional supermarket chain, has its own ATM network called Presto. Crooks created exact duplicates of the proprietary ATM readers and installed tiny cameras to capture your PIN.
Very often, skimming takes place at these kind of independent ATMs you’d find at convenience stores, gas stations, and supermarkets. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself:
- Grab the plastic slot on an ATM where you insert your card and shake it to make sure that it doesn’t come loose. If it’s moving up and down in your hand, there may be a skimmer attached.
- Use your free hand to cover your other hand as you punch in your secret code. Remember, you may be on a crook’s candid camera or someone may be viewing you remotely with binoculars.
- If you don’t carry huge money in your checking account, you might consider instituting a daily limit on ATM withdrawals. Check with your bank or credit union for more details.
For more information:
- Would this ATM skimmer Have Fooled You? (article)
- An illustrated guide on how to detect ATM skimmers. (PDF)