Cybersecurity expert: ways you can combat card skimming devices that may be used to steal personal information

WAFF's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Jul. 2, 2023 at 10:36 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Thieves are always looking for a way to steal people’s hard-earned cash. Using card skimmers to steal someone’s information isn’t anything new, but it’s what helped six people allegedly steal millions from Listerhill and Avadian Credit Union customers.

“It looks legitimate, looks like it’s a part of the machine,” said Marc Sachs, a cybersecurity expert at Auburn University. “What it’s doing is reading your card before it goes all the way into the actual machine. So it’s allowing the scammer to essentially skim your cards.”

Thankfully, Sachs says these types of crimes are not common.

“They’re very hard to install and it requires the criminal to come back and retrieve the information from it,” he said. “And in some cases, these skimmers might have a little transmitter like a Bluetooth transmitter and they might sit in their car across the street so that they can gather the information directly from the ATM machine. If that’s happening, this makes it a little easier for law enforcement because they can detect the signal from these types of skimmers.”

But he also says don’t count on police catching scammers by that method. Sachs says the best way to catch these scammers is to report them to the police. If something looks off or feels wrong with your ATM, immediately notify your bank and law enforcement.

“Go inside the bank, tell them you think there’s something wrong with the ATM machine, or perhaps use another one. It may not be a skimmer there, but you are the best defense against finding these kinds of devices that criminals put on the ATM machines,” he said.

It’s also important to monitor your accounts regularly using online or mobile banking and set up a transaction or balance alert so you can spot potentially fraudulent activity as quickly as possible.

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