After skimmers found in Shoals, officials talk protection

After skimmers found in Shoals, officials talk protection
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
One of the skimming devices recovered in the Shoals. (Source: Florence PD)
One of the skimming devices recovered in the Shoals. (Source: Florence PD)
The suspect (Source: Florence PD)
The suspect (Source: Florence PD)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The investigation continues in the ATM skimmer incidents in Florence and Muscle Shoals.

Skimmers were placed at two the Listerhill Credit Union in Florence on Hough Road and one in Muscle Shoals on Woodward Avenue. The credit union believes several dozen people who used two different ATM machines within a three hour period of time Sunday were impacted.

Skimmers can be anywhere, and they're popping up more and more. In the wake of the most recent find in north Alabama, federal prosecutors and banking officials shared tips on what you can do to protect yourself and your finances.

Kristen Mashburn, chief of staff of retail for Listerhill Credit Union, said one of their customers alerted them to the skimmers over the weekend.

"When they noticed that something was off about the ATM, he just gave a gentle nudge or tug to the card reader and it came right off," she said.

A skimmer is a high-tech device that's installed right over the card slot on an ATM or payment card reader. It's designed to look like a normal part of the machine, but it will record information like your account number and expiration date from the magnetic strip on your credit card or debit card when you swipe.

ATM skimming is being seen across the country. Listerhill Credit Union said it's important for members to remain vigilant when making card transactions at ATMs and other places with card readers, such as gas pumps.

The Florence Police Department released a picture of one of the skimmers found in the Shoals. They also released a photo of the suspect.

"We are looking for a white male with dark hair. At the time of the incident he was wearing Blue Jeans, white t-shirt, and a dark jacket,' the agency said in a press release.

The Florence Police Department is working closely with Muscle Shoals Police Department on the skimmer cases.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Michael Price at 256-760-6504 or text a tip to 274637 using keyword "FPDTIP" plus the message.

Skimmers are popping up all over country, not only at ATMS, but also at gas stations and other point of sale locations where you use your card to pay. Some now even have Bluetooth technology and can be handheld.

"Skimming is a big problem not only in the northern district but across the country," said Jay Town, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

He urges card holders to scrutinize their accounts.

"Oftentimes with skimming, or carding, they do little testers. They'll do a couple gallons of gasoline or buy a meal before they do the big ticket items and get out of town. So they know the life of that card will only last as long as the vigilance of the owner of that card so we have to pay attention to our finances and our credit," Town said. "There's a lot we can do as consumers to help ourselves not become victims."

"You can set up notifications within online banking or mobile banking with most financial institutions, including ours. That way you can see if your accounts drop to certain levels or if certain transactions were made. That way you can see proactively if something you didn't expect was happening to your account actually took place," Mashburn said.

When you find something you think could be a skimmer, report it to the business and law enforcement.

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