Crime Stoppers: Thieves employ new ATM theft tools

By: NewsCenter 16 Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Email

When you go to the ATM, it’s important to be vigilant.

Thieves often lurk around ATM’s to steal your cash when you turn around. Even scarier, they may be able to steal from you without even being there.

South Bend Police Lieutenant Cindy Kilgore says more than 3 million people are victimized each year, and shares some guidelines to protect yourself.

  • Choose an ATM that's well-lighted, not on a corner

  • If possible take someone with you, and be aware of onlookers

  • Visually inspect apparatus for signs of a skimmer or added camera

Kilgore says thieves can insert a device which records your card information, so they can continue to use it later. Make sure everything in the card slot looks normal. Most banks keep the ATM face free of clutter, so it’s difficult to disguise a skimmer or a camera.

  • Memorize your PIN, shield your transaction

  • Do not re-enter your PIN if machine takes card, contact bank

  • Keep engine running and doors locked

  • Leave room to pull away

  • Have your card in hand

  • Prepare transaction ahead of time to minimize time at machine

  • Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby

Kilgore says it’s important to minimize the amount of time you spend around the ATM, so thieves have less time to approach.

  • Never count cash at the machine or in public

  • Don’t leave receipt behind

  • If followed, drive to police station or crowded, well-lit place

Don’t do anything that might attract attention to you and the fact that you’ve just withdrawn cash from the ATM.

Kilgore also warns against rumors that entering your pin number backwards will somehow alert police that you’re in trouble.
“It’s an urban myth,” she says, noting that the Federal Trade Commission did look into the possibility. She says while it is technically possible, they decided it was not safe. “Many times under duress you will fumble, and that could alert a suspect as to what you’re trying to do.”

  • If victimized at ATM, try to allow bank camera to capture image of suspect

  • If you’re confronted by an assailant, minimize your risk and comply

Kilgore says money is never worth the risk of injury.

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