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July 24th, 2014

Residents can protect themselves from card “skimmers”

I

t’s something most people do almost on autopilot: walk or drive up to an ATM, swipe a card and head off with a full wallet.
But local police say the modern banking convenience is something that requires at least a little thought, as ATMs are one of the newest targets for criminals. Scammers also target victims when they use credit or debit cards at retailers or restaurants.
Key Biscayne Police Sergeant Daniel Valdes, Crime Prevention Officer, is offering easy tips residents can use to protect themselves from what’s known as “card skimming,” or the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card.
According to information from Valdes, “The scammers try to steal your details so they can access your accounts. Once scammers have skimmed your card, they can create a fake or ‘cloned’ card with your details on it. The scammer is then able to run up charges on your account.”
Even worse, card skimming is a way for scammers to steal a victim’s identity, or personal details, to use to commit identity fraud, according to Valdes.
He noted, “By stealing your personal details and account numbers, the scammer may be able to borrow money or take out loans in your name.”
According to Valdes, there as simple steps consumers can take to protect themselves:
Staying safe starts with carefully managing one’s cards, he noted. Do not share personal identity numbers with anyone, don’t keep written copies of PINs with a card, and select passwords that would be hard for anyone to guess.
At the ATM, Valdes advised, give the card entry point a bit of a wiggle before inserting a card to make sure it’s firmly and completely attached, as scammers work by placing a fake entry point over the top of the card slot. Also, if there’s anything else suspicious about the card slot – like an attached device – be wary.
Valdes recommended always reporting anything suspicious to the ATM owner and, of course, not using the machine.
Meanwhile, while shopping, customers should look for warning signs like a salesperson who takes their card out of their sight to process a transaction, or being asked to swipe the card through more than one machine. Another red flag: if the salesperson swipes the card through a different machine than the one the shopper used.
In any of those cases, Valdes noted, it is well within the consumer’s rights to question the salesperson. If a customer still feels uncomfortable after getting an explanation, they should pay with cash or check or simply not make the purchase.
Also, no matter where a consumer is using a card, Valdes said consumers should consider whether they trust the entity they’re using it with.
Meanwhile, people who may have already fallen victim to skimmers have options.
Valdes recommended looking at statements closely and regularly to check for unusual or unauthorized transactions. Report anything suspicious. He noted, “If you think your card has been skimmed, contact your bank or merchant holder immediately to stop your recent transactions. You should also report it to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-333-0000.”
For more tips, visit http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/694076 or http://www.apca.com.au/protectyourpin/tips.htm.

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