Massachusetts officials to organize sweep for skimming devices

Consumer Guide: How to spot an ATM skimming device »

MANSFIELD, Mass. (WPRI) — Since the end of January, credit card-skimming devices have been discovered in several Massachusetts communities. Now, the state is urging local officials to increase inspections.

About 100 Weights and Measures officials from all over Massachusetts attended a seminar in Mansfield Wednesday to learn how to detect skimmers. The plan is to conduct a coordinated effort to spot-check ATMs and gas pumps so more consumers don’t fall victim.

Two of the devices were found on Citizens Bank ATMs in Attleboro stores in late February and another was discovered in Walpole later that week. 

Skimmers are used by thieves to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of ATM and credit cards, which can then be used to withdraw money and make purchases.

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

According to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, many skimmers can be installed in less than a minute and some are Bluetooth-enabled, meaning the crooks don’t have to return to collect the device to obtain your information.

Most devices can hold data from about 100 credit cards and the average loss for each victim is about $1,100.

Inspectors said they are also looking for a new threat, called a “shimmer,” which they said are paper thin and fit right into a credit card slot.

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