ATM 'skimmers' steal your card number, PIN - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

ATM 'skimmers' stealing PINs

A click of the mouse. A tearing of an envelope. A swipe at an ATM. It seems anything we do these days could open us up to crooks.

Almost everyone has a debit card and has used an ATM. However, you may not know what a "skimmer" is.

Skimmers aren't a new way to steal money from people, but they may be the most sneaky, and hardest to spot. 

Detective Ray Woodberry says not enough people know what skimmers are. 

"What they do is they put a little bit of Silly Putty on the back and they fit it right over the top of the real card reader. It has electronics in the back and it can read your card information," he says.

The card reader device is usually accompanied by a second putty-attached device at the top of the ATM, above the key pad, with a camera recording your pin number.

"They can do this in real time. Sit across the street with a laptop and get your PIN number as you punch it in. They will counterfeit your credit card or debit card. Once the card is counterfeited, they can go anywhere," Woodberry says.

He warns ATM users they can thwart the efforts of thieves by being vigilant the next time you use an ATM or any card reader, even at a gas station pump. The skimmer may be a different color than the rest of the ATM. If the reader is loose when you slide your card in, red flags should go up before you punch in your PIN.

"If you pull it off, and it's got putty in the back, you've been had," said Woodberry.

If you think you have been skimmed, call police and your bank immediately.

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