Skimming devices are used by criminals to capture the data stored on a debit or credit card’s magnetic strip, such as the name, card number, and expiration date. Recently, there have been several reports of skimming devices found on ATMs and other devices in our area. Two were discovered at ATMs at Cumberland Farms locations in Attleboro, and another at Cumberland Farms in Walpole. A skimming device was also found on a gas station pump in Bedford. The suspects in these incidents appear to be the same individuals for the three ATMs. It is possible that they have skimmers on other ATMs as well that have not yet been found. Gas stations are especially vulnerable seeing how the pumps are generally not monitored. While Middlesex Savings Bank has converted to chip-enabled debit cards, not all merchants or banks have converted to accept this technology.
Skimming is not a new tactic used by criminals; however, there has been an increase in activity as they try to obtain as many card numbers as they can before all financial institutions convert their cards and ATMs to chip technology. As you may recall, Middlesex Savings Bank converted all of its customers debit cards to this new chip and PIN technology in September, ahead of the federal deadline and is on track to convert its ATMs as well.
While it is alarming to think that you could unknowingly be a victim of ATM or card skimming, there are measures you can take to protect yourself. First, inspect the ATM that you may be using for signs of possible tampering. Report any suspicious devices to the bank’s call center or nearest branch. If you notice a suspicious device on other terminals, such as a gas station pump, be sure to notify the owner or manager of the business.
One sign that a card reader has a skimming device attached is that it may appear as if it has been bumped loose; it might wiggle and not be securely affixed to the machine. The keypad may also appear to be loose.
The photo shows a typical Middlesex Savings Bank ATM card reader. It is already considerably bulky, which makes it hard for a criminal to place another device over it. Even if you are using an ATM with a bulky card reader, it is wise not to just assume it is safe. It is still worth a quick inspection to see if anything looks awry.