How to protect yourself from card-skimming devices

Consumer Guide: How to spot an ATM skimmer »

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — As police in Attleboro continue to investigate the discovery of card-skimming devices on a pair of ATMs, Somerset police offered up some important advice so you don’t fall victim.

On Monday, Eyewitness News told you how skimmers were found on Citizens Bank ATMs inside the Cumberland Farms on County and Pleasant Streets. The story had viewers talking on our Facebook page, with many concerned about the possibility of having their debit and credit card information stolen.

Somerset Police Chief George McNeil said it’s a problem nationwide and the best way to protect yourself is to keep an eye on your finances.

“You have to monitor your bank account,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”

When you slide your card into the skimmer, information from the magnetic strip on the back is taken, which can then be used to make purchases and withdraw money. The devices can be very hard to detect since they resemble the original card reader and are installed right on top. According to the FBI, the main difference is that card readers are often concave (curving inward) while the skimmers are typically convex (curving outward).

McNeil said scammers are looking to take your information and your money any way they can.

Consumer Guide: How to spot an ATM skimmer »
Consumer Guide: How to spot an ATM skimmer »

“ATM machines, gas machines, you can sometimes get a low-level employee at a drive-thru or some sort of gas station that takes your card and swipes it,” he explained. “They can actually have the skimming devices behind the counter.”

The chief said the technology has gotten to the point where someone can be across the street and use Bluetooth to obtain your card’s information.

Chief McNeil, who admitted that he fell victim to a skimmer himself, also recommended making sure the keypad isn’t visible when you enter your PIN.

“You also maybe want to cover your finger up when you put in your PIN,” said McNeil. “If the skimmer is there, they’ll have a camera as well. They won’t be able to record your pin.”

Police said they have several leads on the man and woman suspected of installing the ATM skimmers in Attleboro.

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