SEATTLE – It’s something you may not notice during your trip to the bank machine. You insert your card, punch in your PIN and walk away.
But perhaps, you’ve just been stung by a skimming scam.
“The devices have become more sophisticated over time,” says Don Carroll of the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force. He says technology may be contributing to an uptick in criminal activity.
He points to the recent arrest of Gvidiv Mateescu and Claudiu Tudor, who are now in Federal custody and accused of racking up almost $330,000 in illegal charges. Prosecutors allege the two men installed skimmers at a couple of ATMs in Woodinville and Renton.
The Secret Service says skimmers now install face plates, which download your bank information, onto a separate chip. That chip is then connected to a home computer where information is downloaded and transferred to a magnetic stripe. Just like that, your card is cloned.
“Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me,” says Marie Arend, who uses one of the bank machines that was altered but is now fixed. “If I definitely see anything that looks weird, I’ll think about using a different ATM.”
Carroll says examine the paint and texture near an ATM to see if anything looks unusual and always hide your hand as you enter in your PIN.