Our View: Skimming scam demands common senseThieves can be more than just deceitful – they can be devious.
Thieves can be more than just deceitful – they can be devious.
We were reminded of that fact last week after news broke of a so-called “skimming” operation discovered at a local bank branch’s ATM. As this edition’s front-page story spells out, the would-be thieves used two pieces of low-level technology in a failed attempt to glean customers’ credit card data. The scam works like this: crooks place a mocked-up card reader over the slot where you insert your card. Applied properly, customers never know the difference while the phony reader stores the data from their cards as it passes through. Meanwhile, a pinhole-sized camera installed by the thieves aims at the keypad, where it records you entering your personal identification number.
If this clever contraption sounds like the kind of thing you’d only see in the movies, think again. This happened here in Woodbury at a bank where dozens of unwitting customers were poised to be robbed blind.
Woodbury police commander Jay Alberio said that while skimming incidents remain relatively rare in the east metro – he noted a similar Oakdale incident brings to two the number of occurrences so far this year – it’s a growing nationwide trend.
If not for a customer with some common sense, the Woodbury thieves likely would have pulled it off. The customer noticed a piece come loose on the ATM as he removed his card and called police.
As time and technology advances, scams like these are only bound to proliferate. And sadly, there’s often little consumers can do to ward off such threats as we rush through our lives. So how do we avoid falling prey? As Alberio suggests, battle high tech with low tech. When at the ATM, use your free hand to shield any surreptitious cameras from spying your PIN sequence.
Perhaps the best old-school remedy is what the Woodbury ATM customer summoned: common sense. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t disregard your intuition. Size up the situation and don’t hesitate to call police if things don’t add up in your gut.