Hundreds of Quincy Credit Union (Massachusetts) customers reported that unauthorized ATM withdrawals were made from their accounts over the holiday weekend. Officials now believe that skimmers were placed on ATM machines in early December. As is typical, the thieves waited until a weekend (and a holiday one at that) to make withdrawals because they knew it would take longer for the missing money to be noticed.
At first, the credit union blocked customers’ account access until it could check accounts. As of now, stolen amounts from accounts has been restored and new ATM and debit cards have been issued as warranted. Most of the withdrawals were made from ATMs in the New York City area. The investigation into this security breach is ongoing.
It is not easy to detect a skimmer, a device glued or taped over an existing ATM machine’s card slot and/or keyboard. Skimmers are used to grab account information from a card’s magnetic strip, and to capture PIN numbers as they are entered using a small camera or a keyboard overlay.
Because they are hard to detect, many consumers check an ATM for any signs of a skimmer or other tampering before entering a debit card. Generally, ATM machines are solidly built with no fragile parts. Don’t use an ATM if you see or feel something that looks flimsy or loose, or if the ATM machine or keyboard design or card slot feel loose, or look different somehow. To reduce the chances of a camera reading your PIN, cover your hand when entering your PIN number.
When possible, use an ATM that is in a busy public location, or within a bank or retail store. Also, when you can, use an ATM during the weekday. It is typically harder for a thief to install and retrieve a skimmer during the day when businesses around it are open. Thieves generally install and retrieve skimmers at night and on weekends. Of course, notify the bank or the police if you have any concerns about a particular ATM.
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