Police warn about ATM information theft

Suspects attach info-readers to machines
January 9, 2008 4:46:24 PM PST
Safety around ATMs improved as banks offered better lighting and secure access. But a scam threatens to take your money without you knowing it. A theft ring is believed to be targeting ATMs in our area.

On a quiet Sunday morning last month, someone altered a Ravenswood Bank ATM. The first customer to come by noticed something strange: a newly attached cup holder.

"It came off in his hand. And that's when he called the police," said Ron Tragasz, Ravenswood Bank.

Ravenswood Bank's chief operations officer says that alert customer averted theft of his account and others who may have come by. Nothing was taken.

"The key here is look for anything that appears to be unusual when you use an ATM. This was a device that was attached to the machine and drew his attention immediately," said Tragasz.

The scam is called skimming. The would-be thief attaches a device to read your card number and a camera to see you pin. Once they've got that information they can clean out your account before you know anything has happened.

Chicago Police say these guys are responsible for skimming at three banks in Chicago. They were caught on a camera as they installed skimming equipment. Police say two Washington Mutual ATMs were victims of the skimming crew in July, one on North Southport, the other one on North Clark.

"Maybe when they lost money in their account, maybe this is how it happened," said Sgt. Tim Kusinski, Chicago Police.

The U.S. Secret Service investigates these types of crimes and suggests:

  • ATM customers use a familiar ATM so you know what the equipment looks like,
  • examine the ATM before using it looking for wires of loose fitting pieces,
  • make sure the card reader is secure skimming devices will likely be loose,
  • and be wary of alleged Good Samaritans who may actually be a set up to see you pin.
  • " ," said

    Chicago Police urge customers to be careful using ATMs, and if anyone recognizes the man seen on the surveillance video or anything suspicious near an ATM call police.

    Skimming at suburban ATMs is also being investigated. A spokesman for Washington Mutual says they are installing hardware and software that will prevent skimming.