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Montgomery County Thieves Use ATM ‘Skimmers’ To Steal Pin Numbers

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chris-may-web Chris May
Chris May is anchor of CBS 3’s Eyewitness News at 5, 6 an...
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FLOURTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Thieves are using new high-tech ways to steal your account information from the exact place you put your debit card: an ATM. Can you trust your ATM?

It’s a quick, easy way to get cash, not only for you, but for thieves, too. It happened to Terry Vanvessem of Glenside. She went to her bank’s ATM in Flourtown.

“I use it a lot. It didn’t look any different, it didn’t. I put in the numbers the same way,” Terry said. “I thought this might happen at you know, like, a freestanding, privately-owned ATM, but not at a bank ATM.”

They stole nearly $2000 from Terry’s account.

“They almost wiped my account out,” said Brandi Lowe, a college student in Ambler.

Just a few weeks before Christmas, she used her debit card at the same ATM in Flourtown.

Then the bank called asking about strange activity on her account.

Watch the video…

But it was too late. An ATM scam artist had already swiped $1700 from her.

“It was really hard because that was my big lump sum of money that I depended on for things,” Brandi said. The bank refunded the money, but not for a few weeks.

How does the scam work? Thieves actually glue a device on the ATM where you put your credit or debit card in. It reads the magnetic strip as it’s going into the actual ATM slot and copies your information.

The devices are called skimmers. The U.S. Secret Service in Philadelphia showed Eyewitness News some skimmers they found on ATMs around here. At the same time, your PIN is captured on video by a small pinhole camera that’s been hidden by the crooks. They can then make a copy of your card and start withdrawing.

“The criminals are always coming up with new ways. They’re devising new techniques and coming up with new, creative ways to steal,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

She is prosecuting five Bulgarian nationals arrested last month. They’re charged with hooking up skimmers to steal more than $134,000 dollars from ATMs in Chester and Montgomery Counties, including where Terry and Brandi were scammed.

When you think of how many times an ATM in used in a day, these guys can harvest a lot of information at one time.

“Oh, there’s absolutely the possibility,” said Ferman.

What can you do? First, when you’re at an ATM, wiggle the device that reads your card. If it feels loose, it might be a skimmer. Look for any signs of glue on the front of the ATM, and cover your hand when you enter your PIN. You may just be able to protect yourself from being a skimming victim.

Reported by Chris May, CBS 3

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