ATM Skimming crime prevention

ATM skimming: What can you do to avoid becoming a victim?

A customer uses a Chase Bank ATM on March 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Just north of Chicago in the suburb of Wilmette a similar Chase Bank ATM was tampered with in an attempt to skim credit and debit card information. Credits:   Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
A customer uses a Chase Bank ATM on March 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Just north of Chicago in the suburb of Wilmette a similar Chase Bank ATM was tampered with in an attempt to skim credit and debit card information.
Credits: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some customers will look around to see if anyone is loitering nearby before they withdraw cash from an ATM, but they probably wouldn’t have spotted Ahmet Cilek, who was sentenced Wednesday to 62 months of imprisonment for his participation in an ATM skimming scheme, or Miroslav M. Slavov, 26, of 9011 N. Chester Avenue in Niles, who the Tribune reported, was charged with burglary and possession of “a document making implement” after he was arrested on May 26 near a Chase Bank ATM at 50 Skokie Boulevard in Wilmette.

These two thieves didn’t need to be waiting near an ATM to victimize the people using it.

The Tribune reported Wednesday, that Chase Bank officials notified police that there was an illegal device on the ATM, at their Wilmette location, and officers established a stakeout of the cash machine and arrested Slavon when he returned to pickup the device, said chief Brian King.

“It was a nice observation by Chase and a very timely call to the police department,” said King. “That’s what made this case successful.”

The police checked the security camera monitoring the machine and began surveillance. Slavov was arrested when he returned to the machine to collect the equipment he had placed on the ATM.

How does skimming work?

Devices are placed over card readers, which include pinhead-sized cameras and well-crafted attachments that sit snugly on top of ATM card readers and PIN pads, looking just like the real equipment.  Examples of this type of device can be viewed at Krebs-on- Security and Hoax-Slayer.  Bluetooth technology allows the fake card reader and PIN pad to talk to each other, and data drives or wireless technology can make downloading of stolen information quick and easy.

Given such clever engineering, consumers may not be able to tell that a machine has been compromised. Banks may not know either.  According to Wilmette Police Chief Brian King, “Generally skimming devices are put on over weekends,” he said. “If you’re withdrawing cash, especially on a Friday or Saturday, make sure the ATM device is authentic, that there’s nothing on the front of it that could be acting as a card reader.”
Perpetrators of such fraud often place skimmers on outdoor ATMs on Friday evenings and remove them before the bank opens on Monday. The data is typically passed to crooks in another country within hours.

What can you do to avoid becoming a victim?

1. Protect your pin. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits.

2. Give It A Wiggle – Skimming devices are often false panels attached to the ATM—such as where you put your card into the machine. If parts of the ATM look damaged or different, give it a wiggle.

3. Choose Your ATMs Wisely – Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low trafficked areas. Experts often recommend choosing a bank ATM over standalone ATMs in public places.

4. Watch Your Statements – The most vigilant person can still fall victim to ATM skimmers, and it’s important to always keep a close eye on your accounts.

5. Report Fraud Immediately – Report any fraudulent activity to your bank as soon as you discover it.

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Ed Kress
For over 35 years Ed Kress has been an instructor and student at the Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts, named "Best Overall Martial Arts School” worldwide by Black Belt Magazine. Master Fred Degerberg awarded Ed his 7th degree Black Belt in 2015. Growing up on Chicago’s Southside, Ed learned early in life to pay attention to his surroundings in order to avoid potentially dangerous people and situations. Along with local law enforcement officers and directors of campus security, Ed has developed a program which focuses on teaching personal safety on the streets, and as it relates to the high school and college experience. Ed has trained thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students to improve their personal and situational awareness and, when necessary, how to physically defend themselves using their brains as well as their bodies. Ed began his martial arts career when he started wrestling in 8th grade, taking 1st place in the Chicago Park District City Championships. He later wrestled varsity at Mendel Catholic High School where he was a Chicago Catholic League Conference Champion. During his college career at North Park University he was a Conference Champion and 2-time NCAA Div 3 national qualifier. He was on his way to qualifying for the 3rd time when a neck injury ended his college career. His record that year was 17 - 0. He continues to wrestle as Head Freshman Wrestling Coach at Loyola Academy. A position he has held since 2004.

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